The Latest: British PM wants further probe into virus origin

The Latest on the Group of Seven nations meeting being held in England:

CARBIS BAY, England — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain wants further investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the end of the Group of Seven summit in southwest England, Johnson says that while it doesn’t look as if this particular disease came from a lab, the world needs to “keep an open mind.”

Though the notion was once dismissed by most public health experts and government officials, the hypothesis that COVID-19 leaked accidentally from a Chinese lab is now under a new U.S. investigation ordered by President Joe Biden.

The G-7 leaders endorsed calls for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based” further investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Many scientists still believe the virus most likely jumped from animals to humans.


NEWQUAY, England — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says the dominant theme of the Group of Seven summit was how to respond to China and other autocratic governments.

Draghi said Sunday that China has the right to a great economy but that practices like coercive detention and using forced labor were out of step with the vision of the world’s democracies.

He said the position taken wasn’t particularly tough, but was rather realistic, in view of the necessity to cooperate on climate change, rebuilding the world after the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.

He also said his Cabinet would be reviewing the controversial 2019 trade and infrastructure deal Italy’s previous government signed with Beijing. Over U.S. and other objections, Italy in 2019 became the first G7 country to sign onto China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, Beijing’s global investment project that envisions overland and maritime routes connecting China with Europe.


NEWQUAY, England — President Joe Biden is hinting that he could make a change to the steel and aluminum tariffs originally imposed during the Trump administration.

Asked Sunday at a news conference how Biden justified the tariffs to European allies now that Trump is out of office, Biden suggested that future action could be taken without specifying what that would be.

“120 days,” says Biden, who technically became the U.S. president 144 days ago. “Give me a break. Need time.”


NEWQUAY, England — President Joe Biden says helping the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic will be a “constant project for a long time.”

Biden spoke Sunday of a “clear consensus” among the other leaders attending the Group of Seven summit that commitments they made to donate vaccines wouldn’t be the end.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the summit host, announced on Sunday that G-7 leaders had pledged over 1 billion vaccine doses for poorer nations.

Biden is responsible for about half of that donation, or about 500 million doses. He says the U.S. may be able to contribute 1 billion more doses.

The U.S. president says it’s a “gigantic, logistical effort” to get shots in arms around the world, a the goal he said may not be achieved until 2023.


NEWQUAY, England — President Joe Biden is taking a series of subtle jabs at Donald Trump at the end of the Group of Seven summit, suggesting there was a “genuine sense of enthusiasm” among foreign leaders that the United States was engaged on world issues.

The president is highlighting very fundamental differences with Trump over climate change and national security at a news conference Sunday. Biden says that he does not view NATO as a “protection racket.” That’s a contrast to Trump who said that foreign countries should pay for the presence of the U.S. military abroad. Biden is following the G-7 by attending a NATO summit Monday.

Biden says that climate change is “the existential threat” facing humanity, stressing that Trump did not recognize it as a problem.


NEWQUAY, England — President Joe Biden has closed his first Group of Seven leaders’ summit, saying it was an “extraordinary, collaborative and productive meeting.”

Biden on Sunday praised agreements to help the world combat COVID-19 and to set a global minimum tax for corporations everywhere.

He spoke at a news conference in Newquay, England, after the conclusion of a three-day summit in nearby Carbis Bay of leaders of the world’s largest economies.

Biden is on the first overseas trip of his nearly 5-month-old presidency.

His next stop is London and Sunday afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth II, joined by first lady Jill Biden.

Afterward, Biden flies to Brussels to attend a NATO summit. The trip ends Wednesday in Geneva, where Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet.


CARBIS BAY, England —The leaders of the world’s richest countries have agreed to endorse a global minimum tax on multinational corporations.

The decision had been widely anticipated after finance ministers earlier this month embraced placing a global minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational companies to stop corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes and thus robbing some countries of much-needed revenue.

The minimum rate was championed by the United States and dovetails with the aim of U.S. President Joe Biden to focus the three-day G-7 summit in England on ways the democracies can support a more fair global economy by working together. The summit ended Sunday with broad agreements for cooperation on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, challenging China’s economic and human rights policies and other issues.


CARBIS BAY, England — Leaders from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are calling on China to respect human rights in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong and in Xinjiang, where the Uyghur minority lives.

The group also lashed out at China’s economic policies in a statement published Sunday. The group said it would continue to “consult on collective approaches to challenging non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy.”

The G7 summit aimed to show that international cooperation is back after the upheavals caused by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former U.S. President Donald Trump. And they want to convey that the club of wealthy democracies — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — is a better friend to poorer nations than authoritarian rivals such as China.


CARBIS BAY, England — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the Group of Seven wealthy nations will pledge over 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses for poorer nations.

Speaking at the end of a G-7 leaders’ summit in southwest England on Sunday, Johnson said the doses would come both directly and through the international COVAX program.

The commitment falls far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organization said is needed to vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s population and truly end the pandemic.


FALMOUTH, ENGLAND — The International Monetary Fund managing director says there’s a moral imperative for the world’s richest countries to back programs to end the COVID-19 pandemic but the donation of excess vaccines is only the first step.

Kristalina Georgieva’s comments in a virtual press conference at the Group of Seven summit Sunday came after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped G-7 leaders would agree to provide at least 1 billion vaccine doses for poorer countries. Humanitarian groups have welcomed the donations, but are calling for money, increased production and logistical support to help developing countries where the virus is still raging.

Georgieva said the donations are a good step but more needs to be done to overcome the hurdles needed to deliver shots into arms.

“This is a moral imperative, but it is a necessity for the economic recovery to stick, because we can’t have the world split into two tracks without negative consequences,’’ Georgieva said.

While almost half of the combined population of the G-7 nations has received at least one dose of vaccine, the worldwide figure is less than 13%. In Africa, it’s just 2.2%.

“The war is not yet won,’’ she said.


FALMOUTH, England — Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has defended coronavirus arrangements at Saturday night’s G-7 beach barbeque after criticism that the event did not comply with England’s COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

World leaders and their partners were seen mingling on the beach as they were treated to a barbeque dinner including steak, grilled fish and lobster after a second day of talks in a seaside resort in Cornwall, southwest England.

Johnson’s spokesman Max Blain said there were fewer than 30 guests at the barbeque in accordance with the U.K.’s restrictions.

It was “done in an entirely COVID-secure way within the existing rules,” he said. “You can see it was a relaxed atmosphere and gave the leaders a chance to discuss outside of a formal setting.”

Many in the U.K. are concerned about a resurgence of coronavirus infections in the country, driven by the Delta variant. Johnson is widely expected to announce a delay in the next stage of England’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions.


FALMOUTH, England — Churchgoers in a seaside resort in England say they have been left “gobsmacked” when U.S. President Joe Biden and the first lady Jill Biden dropped in for a Sunday service.

The Bidens are in Cornwall, southwest England, where the U.S. president is attending a Group of Seven wealthy democracies summit. On Sunday morning, ahead of the summit’s conclusion, they were seen attending mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in St. Ives.

“I think gobsmacked is probably a very true word,” said Annie Fitzpatrick, 58. “It’s quite amazing, we went into the church and they took some details from us and I thought this is a bit unusual. About 10 minutes into the service the doors opened up and President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden walked in and just sat in the pew just across from me.”

The president “quietly got on with his prayer like everyone was doing,” she said, adding: “He looked around and said peace be with you, and I was one of them so I’m delighted. I’m not sure I will ever get over this moment completely.”

Gayle Wood, 63, said Biden appeared to make a “very generous donation” to the church before leaving.


FALMOUTH, England — Britain is accusing European Union of holding the “offensive” view that Northern Ireland is not fully part of the United Kingdom, as Brexit continues to cast a shadow over the Group of Seven summit.

Britain and the EU are in a spat over post-Brexit trade arrangements that could see British sausages banned from entering Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that borders the 27-nation bloc. The dispute is raising political tensions in Northern Ireland, where some people identify as British and some as Irish.

British media are reporting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked French President Emmanuel Macron when they met at the summit in Carbis Bay, England, how he would feel if sausages from Toulouse could not be moved to Paris. They said Macron replied the comparison did not work because Paris and Tolouse were part of the same country.

The French presidency did not deny Macron had made the comments. It said he meant “that Toulouse and Paris were on a geographical unity of territory, Northern Ireland is on an island. The president wanted to stress that the situation was quite different and that it’s not appropriate to hold that kind of comparison.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the idea Northern Ireland was not an integral part of the U.K. was “not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.”


FALMOUTH, England — Group of Seven leaders are talking about climate change on the final day of their summit in England, with naturalist David Attenborough warning they must take urgent action to avoid human-based environmental catastrophe.

All G-7 countries have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but many environmentalists say that will be too late. The leaders also plan to announce new green-financing plans to help poorer countries reduce carbon emissions.

Attenborough, who is due to address the leaders on Sunday by video, said global warning and loss of biodiversity are “beyond doubt,” as is the fact that “our societies and nations are unequal.”

He said “the question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilizing the entire planet?”

“If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history,” Attenborough said in comments released by summit organizers.


FALMOUTH, England — The head of the World Health Organization has welcomed the vaccine-sharing announcements coming out of the Group of Seven summit but says “we need more, and we need them faster.”

“The challenge, I said to the G-7 leaders, was that to truly end the pandemic, our goal must be to vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s population by the time the G-7 meets again in Germany next year,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Saturday at the summit in southwest England.

“To do that, we need 11 billion doses,” Tedros said, adding that it was “essential” for countries to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the summit’s host, has said the group would pledge at least 1 billion doses, with half that number coming from the United States and 100 million from Britain over the next year.

Tedros reiterated his target of vaccinating 30% of the population of every country by the end of 2021. He said that reaching the goal requires 100 million doses in June and July, and 250 million more by September.


FALMOUTH, England — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, have welcomed leaders from South Korea, Australia and South Africa, as well as the secretary-general of the United Nations, to the Group of Seven summit taking place on the coast of southwestern England.

The leaders elbow-bumped and posed for photos Saturday on a pristine beach in Cornwall.

The G-7 nations are the U.K., the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. The British government said the guest nations were invited to take part in the summit as part of Johnson’s “Global Britain” agenda and that the expanded group can help the G-7 “intensify cooperation between the world’s democratic and technologically advanced nations.”

India was also invited, but its delegation is not attending in person because of the severe coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The leaders, whose 3-day summit is scheduled to end on Sunday, are expected to commit to a new plan, called the “Carbis Bay Declaration,” to quash future pandemics within the first 100 days.


CARBIS BAY, England — French President Emmanuel Macron says it’s good that U.S. President Joe Biden is able to lead through cooperation, adding that the United States is “definitely” back as Europe’s partner.

Biden and Macron met Saturday as part of the Group of Seven summit in southwest England, where they and other leaders of the world’s wealthy democracies are discussing the coronavirus pandemic, the environment, national security, relations with China and economic issues.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump took an adversarial approach with NATO allies, but Macron said Biden has shown that “leadership is partnership.”

The desire for cooperation cuts both ways. Biden described the European Union as “incredibly strong and vibrant,” which he said not only helps with tackling economic challenges but also provides a backbone for NATO.


BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Joe Biden have met on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in England.

A spokesman for the German chancellor tweeted two pictures of the leaders sitting at a table in Carbis Bay on Saturday.

“At noontime on the second day of the G7 summit the chancellor talked to U.S. President Biden in between the work meetings,” read the caption accompanying the photos.

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert didn’t give any details about what the two discussed.

Merkel, who is leaving office later this year, plans to visit Biden in Washington next month. The president invited her to the White House earlier this week.


FALMOUTH, England — Hundreds of environmental protesters took to the Cornish seaside Saturday morning in a bid to draw the attention of world leaders and the international media outlets that have descended on southwest England for the G-7 summit.

Some protesters paddled out to sea, while others sunbathed on the beach wearing masks of leaders’ faces.

A crowd of surfers, kayakers and swimmers gathered Saturday on a beach in Falmouth for a mass “paddle out protest” organized by the group Surfers Against Sewage, which is campaigning for more action to protect oceans.

U.S. President Joe Biden and fellow leaders from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are meeting near the town of St. Ives for talks focusing on the pandemic and climate change.

Earlier, activists from Oxfam assembled on Falmouth beach to protest climate change and put on masks depicting the leaders attending the G-7 summit.

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of policy, said activists want the G-7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the United States – to commit to bigger reductions in carbon emissions and to financing to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

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