Biden Tries To Win Over G-7 Leaders To Push Back On China : NPR

President Biden meets with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the G-7 summit. A White House official said Biden did a lot of “diplomatic speed dating” with world leaders. Official Photo / Getty Images Hide caption

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Official Photo / Getty Images

President Biden meets with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the G-7 summit. A White House official said Biden did a lot of “diplomatic speed dating” with world leaders.

Official Photo / Getty Images

President Biden went to great lengths over a weekend of group and private sessions that one adviser referred to as “diplomatic speed dating” to persuade G-7 leaders to take a more confident stance on China’s human rights abuses and trade practices.

Biden sees China as an important strategic competitor. But some other G-7 leaders have tried to work with China on areas such as infrastructure projects and telecommunications. In his first face-to-face meetings with European allies since taking office, Biden sought to re-establish ties tense during the tense international meetings with his predecessor and sought common ground for the problems Beijing raised.

“There has been some interesting discussion and a little bit of differentiation of opinions, not about whether the threat is there – but how much different G-7 members are willing to take on from an action perspective,” a White House official told reporters during one Updates on the conversations.

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How aggressively you face China was a sticking point. Some G-7 leaders fear damaging important economic ties.

The White House said leaders have agreed to work together to help fund major infrastructure projects in developing countries. Efforts are aimed at countering China’s massive “Belt and Road” initiative, although the G-7 version will be “decentralized” and based on ongoing development finance initiatives, an official said, noting concrete details as yet are available.

Biden also urged the G-7 to take a tough stance against China’s use of forced labor in Xinjiang Province. Aides said the leaders were supportive, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much that sentiment would be reflected in the G-7 communiqué, the intensely negotiated final document that shows what the leaders agreed. The communique will be released when the summit closes on Sunday. Biden also wants to give a press conference at this time.

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron met on the sidelines. “I think it’s great that the US president is part of the club and is very willing to cooperate,” said Macron. Patrick Semansky / AP Hide caption

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Patrick Semansky / AP

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron met on the sidelines. “I think it’s great that the US president is part of the club and is very willing to cooperate,” said Macron.

Patrick Semansky / AP

During his meetings with leaders, Biden also spoke about the response to COVID-19, climate change, troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and instability in the Sahel region in West Africa, the White House said.

The dynamic was noticeably different for Biden than for former President Donald Trump, who did not have multilateral summits and often exchanged views with other leaders.

“We need cooperation on all of these questions,” said French President Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of an hour-long conversation with Biden on a terrace overlooking the sea.

“And I think it’s great that the US president is part of the club and is very willing to cooperate,” said Macron.

Biden also met with heads of state and government from Germany, Italy and Japan. He met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison – there as a G-7 guest. And later he met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, another guest invited to the summit.

Biden will next travel to Brussels to meet with NATO allies and European leaders on Monday and Tuesday before ending his trip to Geneva for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jack

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