WORLD Vaccine pledge and Northern Ireland tensions as G7 gets under way


Vaccine pledge and Northern Ireland tensions as G7 gets under way


08:24, June 12, 2021

G7 and EU leaders posed for family photos at Carbis Bay in Cornwall today as the summit got under way. (Photos: CGTN)

Following this morning's promises from U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to accelerate global vaccination against COVID-19, the G7 has agreed to provide a billion doses worldwide, according to the UK government.

The G7 leaders - of UK, U.S., Japan, Germany, Canada, Italy, and France - posed for their traditional "family photo" on Carbis Bay beach, as invited leaders including Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Moon Jae-In, President the Republic of Korea arrived.

It's the first G7 since before the global pandemic began, and European leaders Ursula Von Der Leyen and Charles Michel (presidents of the European Commission and European Council respectively) are in Cornwall for the talks.

In the first full meeting of the conference, Prime Minister Johnson insisted on a "leveling up" agenda - which mirrors his government's domestic policy.

The G7 should aim to create a "more equal and... a more gender-neutral and perhaps a more feminine" world, after the pandemic eases, Johnson said.

But aid experts have warned the promises are still not enough. Kirsty McNeill of Save the Children said it might be a good start, but "the jury is still out."

"It is ultimately the agreement or not of a global financing plan to vaccinate the world on which this summit – held as the pandemic still rages - will be judged. The education and dose sharing announcements provide some foundations, but the jury is still out," she said.

Around the conference rumors of a split inside the G7 came after French President Macron tweeted a picture with fellow European leaders, with the message "as always, the same union, the same determination to act, the same enthusiasm! The G7 can begin."

Emmanuel Macron's tweet.

The conference has started under a cloud of speculation over Northern Ireland, the UK province on the island of Ireland. A new "protocol" has governed its trading relationship with the EU since Brexit, but talks about this deal's future broke down this week.

It's been suggested that today's meeting between European leaders was a strategy meeting of the "union" Macron mentioned, as it decides how to move forward in its relationship with the UK.

Prime Minister Johnson is set to have one-on-one meetings with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel tomorrow morning, before a meeting with both European Union presidents, Von Der Leyen and Charles Michel.

Outside the barriers

Along with the discussions and photoshoots inside the sealed-off Carbis Bay area, the town of St Ives was a hive of activity today, with climate activist group Extinction Rebellion holding a march and rally in the town.

The "Sound the Alarm" event attracted approximately 300 people from around the UK. There will be several other events and marches over the G7 weekend in Cornwall, with marches also moving through Falmouth, where much of the media are based.

Finally, despite the measures put in place around the world, the G7 Summit has not avoided COVID-19. There have been at least 13 cases reported by staff in one of the resort town's most popular hotels, and more cases are feared after a hotel in the town was emptied today.

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