G7 Summit Heralds the Return of In-Person Diplomacy: PLYmouth, England – Call it the much-awaited death of the Zoom diplomacy.
President Biden and the leaders of six of the world’s richest nations are meeting face-to-face at a picturesque, seaside resort in Cornwall on England’s southwest coast. It is the first individual global summit since the coronavirus pandemic shut down travel and forced presidents and prime ministers to reach for the “raise hands” button like everyone else.
So far, closeness seems to be working in favor of cooperation.
Summit meetings are always full of pre-packaged “deliverables,” but stage management always works better when there’s an actual stage. So as Friday’s summit opened, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is not only hosting the gathering but has been luring most of the royal family to a formal dinner, announced that the Group of 7 countries would collectively Will donate one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine. Developing world.
It was a very conscious effort to show that the world’s richest democracies can catch up on China’s footsteps to establish itself as a leader in the fight against the coronavirus. The G7 pledge includes Mr Biden’s promise to deliver 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.
But as leaders gathered in hastily built meeting rooms just a few feet from the sandy shore, they had a deep sense that there was a huge geopolitical move beyond human gesture, China’s more than 260 million copies of COVID-19 vaccines. More doses were sent to 95 countries, according to Beijing-based consultancy Bridge Consulting.
Leaders gathered at Carbys Bay in Cornwall have also agreed, at least in concept, to Biden’s proposal for a 15 percent minimum global tax to prevent corporations from engaging in the tax-burdened race. And the group is set to unanimously embrace tougher emissions targets ahead of a major climate change summit this year.
G7 Summit Heralds the Return of In-Person Diplomacy
But the real sign that personal diplomacy is back was a Friday dinner with plenty of royalty, from Queen Elizabeth to Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate Middleton, who earlier in the day from First Lady, Jill Biden in the British had met. school. He dined at the Eden Project, an environmental charity that has rain forests shaded by several large biomes along Cornwell’s coasts. G7 Summit Heralds the Return of In-Person Diplomacy.
This was bum for Mr Biden, who preferred nothing more than jetting around the world as chairman and then vice president of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – a man who really liked walking the halls of the famed Hotel Bayerischer Hof. , where the Munich Security Conference is held every year. He can be seen, two hands on the shoulder of a diplomat, making his point, persuading, posing for photographs.
Then such a journey all came to an accidental halt. He campaigned from his basement. Once elected, his aides had strict rules that no more than five people could be in the White House office at a time. Four months ago, Mr Biden held his first work-from-home meeting with a world leader, speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the only viable way during the pandemic: a video from the Roosevelt Room at the White House call.
More Zoom calls followed: a virtual meeting of the grouping known as the Quad, which includes the president with leaders from Australia, India and Japan; And then a global climate summit “hosted” by Mr Biden but held “Brady Bunch” style, with leaders being held in video squares on the big screen.
He entered into genuine, humanitarian visits, inviting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and then-President of South Korea Moon Jae-in to the White House for brief visits. (Chancellor Angela Merkel is next, the White House said Friday, just before she leaves office, arriving for a farewell visit on July 15.)
This week, face-to-face meetings ended.
Mr Biden jetted across the Atlantic for an eight-day personal round of global backslapping and personal confrontation. On Friday, he participated in the first day of the Group of 7 meeting with the leaders of the world’s richest countries. Then comes the full meeting of NATO leaders and the European Union before the main event of the visit: a one-on-one face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
“I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the importance of face-to-face diplomacy,” said Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton.
“On Zoom, you have no understanding of their movements and how they sit and there are various things that show what kind of person you are dealing with,” she said. “You can’t judge what’s going on in their mind.” (The Munich conference, he said, “is a perfect setting for him,” referring to Mr Biden.)
Richard Haas, a lifelong diplomat and President of the Council on Foreign Relations, agreed that face-to-face meetings are better than the alternative. “I will leave it to others to assess the diplomatic implications of Zoom, requiring only leaders to dress formally from the waist down,” he said.
But Mr Haas warned against reading too much into “face-to-face meetings or personal diplomacy in general”.
“Leaders are inspired by what they consider to be of interest to themselves and their country,” he said. “Diplomacy is a tool to advance those interests, not to divide favours.”
Mr. Haas noted that “a face-to-face encounter can also give a leader too much confidence. Khrushchev made a mistake when he concluded too much from his initial meeting with J.F.K. and the subsequent Cuban Missile Crisis. overplayed his hand, in the process of bringing the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
Of course, not all presidents have liked a summit the way Mr. Biden does. President Barack Obama disliked the endless fanfare of formal summits he attended during his eight years at the White House, especially substance-free moments like “family photos,” where world leaders sit next to each other. stand while the photographer takes a picture of his shot. (There was one at the water’s edge on Friday.)
And there’s always the possibility that a meeting could turn leaders on each other, as President Donald J. Trump proved that during his tenure.
His presence at global meetings, including the G7s, has caused panic and confrontation with US allies. At the 2018 G7 in Quebec City, Trump refused to sign the leaders’ statement, calling Trudeau “very dishonest and weak” and furious the whole time – as captured by a photo showing him Shown, hands crossed over his chest, German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaning on a table and other leaders standing.
But for Mr Biden, it is different.
Ms. Merkel, Mr. Trudeau and other world leaders get along with Mr. Biden, even though their nations sometimes clash over issues. (Mr. Biden and Ms. Merkel disagree about the need for a Russian natural gas pipeline; Mr. Trudeau and others are not happy with the president’s stance on trade and tariffs.)
Mr Biden appeared relaxed and happy at Corbys Bay. On Thursday evening, as sunset approached, he gave a formal talk about 500 million vaccines, then reappeared with his wife, Jill, in sneakers, at tables outside a small cafe with a waterfront view. He talked small things to those people, seeing whom he was a little surprised. And the mood was light when the leaders gathered outside for that much needed photo.
“Everybody in the water,” he said – probably joking.