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Biden’s First G-7 Kicks Off in Cornwall

A pledge to deliver 1 billion vaccine doses worldwide has already grabbed headlines before the summit begins.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with U.S. President Joe Biden.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of the G-7 summit at Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate near St. Ives, England, on June 10. Toby Melville—WPA Pool/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The G-7 summit begins in Cornwall, England; the United States lifts some Iran sanctions; and Algeria prepares for legislative elections.

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The G-7 Summit Begins

Those in charge of roughly 40 percent of the global economy meet at a seaside resort in Cornwall, England, today as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States for the first G-7 summit since 2019.

In a nod to the multilateralism the group will be keen to espouse over the course of the weekend, the list of invitees has broadened beyond the Europe-heavy contingent to include the leaders of Australia, India, and South Korea. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join virtually.) They will also be joined by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Although today’s gathering will have an environmental theme, with a visit to a nearby ecotourist attraction scheduled, the most eye-catching detail so far released is a global vaccine plan. G-7 countries are expected to commit to sharing 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses with other nations through 2022, a number that includes 500 million Pfizer doses donated by the United States. Saturday’s formal meetings are expected to focus on ways to encourage a global economic recovery as well as prepare for future global health crises.

Taxing matters. The group of countries already made headlines before the summit began, agreeing to a new global minimum corporate tax rate as well as approving a new way to tax the profits of large multinational firms. In a signal of the difficulties in coordination that lie ahead for the group, the United Kingdom is already attempting to insert a carve out for financial service companies in the global tax deal.

Surging support. International support for the United States is high as Biden begins the summit, in stark contrast to his predecessor. A Pew Research Center survey of 12 advanced economies, including the six other G-7 nations, shows a surge in those backing Biden on the world stage. A median of 75 percent of survey respondents said they had confidence in Biden to “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” compared to just 17 percent during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s final year. Biden’s election has flipped perceptions of the United States, with a median of 62 percent of respondents saying they now have a positive view of the United States compared to only 34 percent in 2020.


What We’re Following Today

U.S. lifts some Iran sanctions. The United States on Thursday lifted sanctions on three former Iranian government officials and several companies involved in oil and gas shipping, days before talks resume in Vienna over reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. U.S. officials said the removal from the sanctions list was a routine maneuver now that the entities no longer do business with others still blacklisted. “These actions demonstrate our commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in status or behavior by sanctioned persons,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

CAR’s government resigns. Central African Republic Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada resigned on Thursday along with his cabinet, implying in a Facebook post that the reelection of President Faustin-Archange Touadera in December 2020 prompted the move. It may not be the end of Ngrebada’s time in power, as a presidential spokesperson told AFP he could yet be chosen to return. Ngrebada’s decision caps a tumultuous week in the CAR after France withdrew 160 troops and suspended financial aid, alleging the CAR had sided with Russia in spreading disinformation about French activities on the African continent and had failed to live up to a political commitment to engage with the country’s opposition.

South Korea’s conservatives. South Korea’s conservative opposition selected its youngest ever party leader on Friday as it prepares for a presidential election next March. The new leader, Lee Jun-seok, a 36-year-old Harvard graduate, has never held public office and is too young to run for the presidency himself. The news comes as the ruling Democratic Party of outgoing President Moon Jae-in leads in voter preference polls by four points over the conservatives.


Keep an Eye On

Algeria votes. Algerian voters go to the polls on Saturday in early legislative elections as Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune grasps for legitimacy amid rolling anti-government protests. A number of opposition parties are boycotting the vote, as is the Hirak pro-democracy movement. Tebboune hopes for an improvement on the last national vote, when only 25 percent of Algerian voters turned out for a constitutional referendum last November.

Israel’s new government. Israel’s parliament is scheduled to vote on a new government on Sunday in an event that is expected to formally draw to a close Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 consecutive years in power and anoint Naftali Bennett in his place. Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party holds the most seats in a diverse coalition, is expected to serve as foreign minister in a rotating agreement with Bennett.


Odds and Ends

McDonald’s franchises in Indonesia have been forced to close across the country as South Korea’s greatest soft power export—the boy band BTS—caused food shortages and a public health scare as the band’s partnership with the fast food chain on a new chicken nugget meal deal led to a huge surge in demand. With shoppers restricted due to COVID-19 rules, delivery drivers have swamped outlets, with some reporting a two hour wait for orders. The overwhelming popularity of the deal, coupled with the stores’ potential for spreading COVID-19, has led to the temporary closure of 32 outlets in Jakarta alone.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn