“Things are going, I think, fine,” said a relaxed-looking Biden, squinting in the sunlight as the blue waters of Carbis Bay sparkled in the background. “As we say in the United States, we are on the same page. “
Macron cited some of the burning issues – including climate change and the pandemic, but not the ongoing conflicts with China – that the G-7 countries are grappling with.
“For all these issues, we need cooperation,” Macron told Biden. “And what you are demonstrating is that leadership is a partnership. “
But the warm exchange came shortly after deep divisions emerged within the group of leaders of the world’s largest industrial democracies over Biden’s call to denounce China’s undemocratic policies – including the forced labor in his province of Xinjiang and the oppression of Uyghurs and other minorities, CNN reported. .
Internet service was cut from the boardroom at one point to ensure the secrecy of the debate which one White House official called “an interesting discussion.”
“There was… a bit of a difference of opinion on, not whether this threat is there but on the strength” of the group’s response to it, the official said.
While the United States, Britain and Canada have pleaded for outright condemnation of Chinese authoritarianism, the official said, members of the European Union have hesitated.
The conflict is unlikely to be resolved until Sunday, when the group issues a statement summarizing the summit’s results.
Meanwhile, members agreed to launch a US-led global infrastructure program aimed at wooing poorer countries that deepened ties with China through Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. .
The proposal – dubbed ‘Build Better for the World’ or B3W, to echo Biden’s old campaign slogan – calls for spending hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private cash in low-income countries on climate projects, health initiatives, digital technology, and ‘equity and gender equality’ programs.
China’s $ 1 trillion Belt and Road Program has funded numerous projects – typically focusing on physical infrastructure such as airports, roads, and seaports – in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
“This is not about forcing countries to choose between us and China,” a senior administration official told reporters on Friday. “It will not only be an alternative to the BRI, but we believe it will beat the BRI by providing a better choice. “
However, post-Brexit trade feuds between Britain and its former EU partners threatened to overwhelm Biden’s ambitious agenda.
Biden’s conversation with Macron came hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a series of morning meetings with Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU members to resolve escalating tensions over Northern Ireland and its land border with the trade bloc Britain recently abandoned.
Johnson called for “compromises from all sides” to end the ongoing trade feud, which has isolated the region behind onerous trade barriers and led to a resumption of separatist violence there.
“Currently as implemented, the protocol is having a detrimental impact on the people of Northern Ireland,” a spokesperson for Johnson said. “We must find urgent and innovative solutions.
Biden expressed his support for the EU as he began his one-on-one with Macron.
“For my part, I think the EU is an incredibly strong and dynamic entity,” he said, calling it “the backbone and support for NATO”.