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COVID-19, climate change, China: Biden reaffirms America’s global role at the G7

President Joe Biden made his first foreign trip as president to the U.K. for the G-7 summit where he was welcomed by world leaders amid talk of “shared values.” In a bid to move past the Trump-era, President Biden reaffirmed America’s position and role in the world, pledging to lead the effort on vaccines by donating 500 million doses to nations that need it the most. NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor joins for more.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    NewsHour White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor is traveling with President Biden and she joined us with the latest from Plymouth.

    Yamiche, was the tone different for this G7 meeting than when President Trump attended?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This was absolutely different in tone. President Biden, for his first foreign trip as commander in chief, really was friendlier, it was a much more cordial meeting. And we saw elbow bumping instead of elbow pushing. Right. We remember when former President Trump came here and literally elbowed European leaders out of the way. So you really have a lot of European leaders saying they're happy that the U.S. is now cooperating again. You have the French president in particular mentioning that this demonstrates that there's really leadership and partnership.

    There are still, of course, some disagreements among European leaders and the United States. But overall, what you see is President Biden saying there's a lot more talk of shared values, of democratic values on climate change, on humanitarian rights, on trade even, but I think overall what you see here is a real family reunion, which means that there is a lot of love, but there is still some drama.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yeah, well, how are these nations planning on dealing with the challenge that the entire planet is facing right now, the vaccine situation?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the pandemic, of course, is one of the top priorities of the Biden administration and this G7 and these European leaders that President Biden is meeting with and what we hear from the White House in particular, that they're trying to move past the Trump-era and by doing that, what they're trying to do is show that America has action and really have arms around the pandemic. And we saw the G7 come out saying that they're going to pledge one billion number of doses, coronavirus doses to nations who need it and half of them, 500 million will be coming from the United States.

    So you see here the U.S., President Biden, saying that they're taking a leap on this vaccine donation. But I should also note that the U.S. was facing pressure to donate more vaccines. And there was also some talk of the fact that because the U.S. prioritized defense for the production and domestic production that upset the global supply chain when it came to the vaccination.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Tell us a little bit about those issues that people do not see eye to eye on yet. I mean, they might be friendly and cordial but what's happening in some of these private discussions between leaders where they're butting heads?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, there are definitely a couple of places where leaders are butting heads or at least disagreeing. One of the big ones is China. President Biden is really trying to push to call out China by name in writing at the end of this G7 in the communique. He wants to talk about forced labor and call them out for humanitarian reasons.

    There's also real issues about trade. I've had several European experts tell me that there's a real question among a lot of European leaders' minds about whether or not President Biden's "Buy American" is very different from former President Trump's Make America Great and America First agenda. Another thing to note is Afghanistan. President Biden is seen by some as having pulled out too quickly from Afghanistan and not including European leaders. But there are some European leaders who are welcoming the idea of pulling out because they went in trying to back up the United States after 9/11.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The president is supposed to have later in this week a meeting with Vladimir Putin. And that's consequential for a lot of reasons. But what is the White House saying at this point that will be on the table, that will be discussed?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, President Biden is saying that the chief goal when he sits down with the Russian president next week is to really show that America is in a strong position and that we're going to take a firmer stance toward Russia. He really wants to break away from what former President Trump was doing, which was really being seen by most critics as too cozy to Russia. Let's remember that former President Trump at one point said that he believed Russia over U.S. intelligence agencies. So there's also this talk among White House aides that I talked to, that there is this kind of lowering of expectations.

    There are no hard deliverables that the White House is saying it's going to come out of this. But still, ransomware attacks, the ones that were carried out by criminal gangs reportedly in Russia is definitely going to be top on the agenda. So is humanitarian rights and Ukraine and Russia annexing part of Ukraine, so there's a lot to talk about. A big agenda with a lot of challenges ahead.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, joining us from Plymouth in the United Kingdom. Thanks so much.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks, Hari.

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