France

Ahead of G7, Biden, Johnson celebrate alliance amid differences over Northern Ireland



The first trip abroad of the American President must mark the “return” of the United States after the mandate of Donald Trump, stressed Joe Biden, on the cusp of an intense European tour which will take him to Brussels for summits with NATO and the European Union, then in Geneva for a meeting with Vladimir Poutine.

As a sign of the importance given to the relationship with the British ally, he started his trip with a meeting of one and a half hours with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in Carbis Bay, a seaside resort in the south-west of the England which welcomes, from Friday to Sunday, the leaders of the G7.

The pair were shown walking along the scenic coast of British Cornwall, hand in hand with their respective wives, Jill Biden in a jacket bearing the LOVE inscription, and Carrie Johnson. The two then took a detour on the beach with the couple’s young son Wilfred, one year old.

A new “Atlantic Charter”

Joe Biden and Boris Johnson agreed on a new “Atlantic Charter” modeled after the one signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt 80 years ago to reaffirm shared democratic values ​​and take into account new challenges such as cyber attacks or the climate crisis.

“We reaffirmed the special relationship, I do not say it lightly, the special relationship between our peoples,” the US President told reporters, while Boris Johnson called the meeting a “breath of fresh air” .

In public, they have therefore put aside political tensions related to post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland. Joe Biden, proud of his Irish origins, does not appreciate London’s attempts to reverse the “Northern Irish protocol” which avoids the return of a border with Ireland but disrupts supplies between Great Britain and the United Kingdom. northern Irish province.

“We want to make sure that we keep the balance of the peace process. There is absolutely a middle ground and I am optimistic that we will arrive there ”, thus assured Boris Johnson.

The so-called Good Friday agreement of 1998, obtained with the involvement of former US President Bill Clinton, ended the violence between Catholic Republicans and Protestant unionists which had left some 3,500 dead in 30 years of conflict in Ireland. North.

“The progress (recorded since the agreement) must be protected”, explained an American official: “the idea is not to enter into confrontation or to pose as adversary, it did not come to teach lesson “.

In private, the Biden administration seems to be more severe: according to the British daily The Times, the highest American diplomat stationed in Great Britain, Yael Lempert, accused London of “stoking” by its attitude the tensions in Ireland of the North.

Accused by London of legal “purism” and lack of pragmatism, the European Union warned on Wednesday during an unsuccessful meeting that it would react firmly, failing to respect the commitments made.

“Nothing is renegotiable”, hammered the French President, Emmanuel Macron, Thursday, in Paris. If “we don’t know how to respect” an agreement, “then that means that nothing is respectable anymore”.

On Saturday, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, are due to discuss it with Boris Johnson.

Sharing vaccine doses

Beyond this thorny subject, if the populist accents of “BoJo” have earned him comparisons with Donald Trump, a fervent supporter of Brexit, the conservative leader is much more in tune with Joe Biden’s administration on major international issues. like the climate crisis or the challenges posed by China and Russia.

At the summit of rich countries, which promises to be dominated by the pandemic, the first in person in two years, the American President, criticized for having delayed in sharing vaccines with the rest of the world, will put on the table the promise ” historic ”that the United States will purchase 500 million doses of the covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech to donate to other countries, including 200 million this year.

Emmanuel Macron wants the G7 to endorse the goal of 60% of Africans vaccinated by the end of March 2022, calling on pharmaceutical companies to give poor countries 10% of the doses.

The fight against global warming will be the summit’s other priority, before the major UN climate conference (Cop26) scheduled for November in Scotland.

After the G7, Joe Biden will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Sunday and then participate in the NATO summit in Brussels before another summit with the EU. His long trip to Europe will end next Wednesday in Geneva with his meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Poutine.

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