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Biden and G7 leaders pose in show of unity at bench made famous by of Obama and Merkel

G7 leaders enjoyed a lighthearted moment at the end of day one of their Alpine summit, posing for a photograph at the bench made famous by Barack Obama and Angela Merkel in 2015.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put his arms around German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, before President Joe Biden linked arms with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Their backdrop on Sunday was the evening sun glinting off the Bavarian Alps, where Obama and Merkel posed seven years earlier.

But even in a show of unity, Biden could not escape his domestic woes as he faced questions about whether the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade intruded on the day’s global discussions.

‘Not related to Ukraine or any of the issues we discussed,’ he said as he strolled away from the bench.

It came at the end of a busy day of discussions. And as the leaders let off steam.

As they arranged themselves in front of the timber bench, Johnson was caught on the video feed: ‘Ride for life, G7.’ 

He also tried to organize the leaders, urging them one way and then the other.

‘What’s the shot?’ he asked before worrying that they were standing on the wrong side of the bench. 

G7 leaders put on a show of unity at the end of a day of unity, at the bench where Barack Obama and Angela Merkel sat for an iconic photo in 2015

G7 leaders put on a show of unity at the end of a day of unity, at the bench where Barack Obama and Angela Merkel sat for an iconic photo in 2015

Merkel with Obama at the Elmau Castle in 2015 after a working session of the G7 summit

Merkel with Obama at the Elmau Castle in 2015 after a working session of the G7 summit

Biden smiled as the others horsed around. And then was seen in deep discussion with Macron.

Earlier the leaders held a string of meetings, focused on helping Ukraine, revitalising the global economy and countering the rise of China. 

The White House announced plans on Sunday to raise $200 billion for solar projects in Angola, an undersea telecommunications cable linking the Far East with France via Egypt, and nuclear power production in Romania as part of a huge G7 infrastructure plan designed to compete with China’s massive Belt and Road initiative.

The proposals were unveiled on the first day of the G7 summit in Germany, where world leaders met to discuss the global economy and Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

In all, G7 nations will commit $600 billion to the effort over the next five years, President Joe Biden announced, calling the investment a humanitarian, economic and security concern.

Biden spoke with the rest of G7 leadership standing behind him, the Bavarian Alps visible in the distance. 

‘Developing countries often lack the central infrastructure to help navigate global shocks, like a pandemic, so they feel the impacts were acutely, and they have a harder time recovering,’ he said. ‘That’s not just humanitarian concern. It’s an economic and a security concern for all of us.’

The money will be spent in a variety of sectors, including health, climate, energy and gender equity.

‘These strategic investments are areas of critical to sustainable development, and our shared global stability, health and health security, digital connectivity, gender equality and equity, climate and energy security,’ Biden said.

He argued the investment would boost the U.S. economy and economies around the world.

‘I want to be clear this isn’t charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people and the people of all our nations. It will boost all of our economies. It’s a chance for us to share our positive vision for the future,’ he said. 

The White House said its $200 billion in grants and federal financing would help low income countries meet their economic and national security needs.

‘And this will only be the beginning: the United States and its G7 partners will also seek to mobilize hundreds of billions in additional capital from other like-minded partners, multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds, and more,’ said the White House.

Biden named the idea ‘Build Back Better World’ – after his troubled domestic agenda – when he introduced it at last year’s G7 summit.

Now it is called the Partnership for Global Infrastructure.

President Biden officially announced the $600 billion investment in the developing world at his first day at the G7 summit

President Biden officially announced the $600 billion investment in the developing world at his first day at the G7 summit

President Joe Biden, wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, listens with the rest of the G7 leaders as their host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaks

President Joe Biden, wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, listens with the rest of the G7 leaders as their host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaks

G7 leaders are unveiling billions of dollars in funding for infrastructure projects in the developing world as they seek to challenge China's growing influence

G7 leaders are unveiling billions of dollars in funding for infrastructure projects in the developing world as they seek to challenge China’s growing influence 

Biden's plans include billions of dollars for solar projects in the African nation of Angola

Biden’s plans include billions of dollars for solar projects in the African nation of Angola

There is also money to start work on a vaccine manufacturing plant in Senegal, that would be designed to be able to switch production rapidly between different vaccines

There is also money to start work on a vaccine manufacturing plant in Senegal, that would be designed to be able to switch production rapidly between different vaccines

The White House said it would ‘mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars and deliver quality, sustainable infrastructure that makes a difference in people’s lives around the world, strengthens and diversifies our supply chains, creates new opportunities for American workers and businesses, and advances our national security.’

A senior administration official said the plans would help countries grow, contrasting the impact with projects funded by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

‘I think many countries that have received funding or investment, so called investment, from the BRI have now after years of receiving that investment realized that they are further in debt, that their GDP hasn’t grown significantly, that the so called investments from BRI have not reached their populations,’ said the official.

Critics accuse Beijing of a manipulative global strategy by funding major infrastructure projects in developing nations with unsustainable loans.

The debt is then used to gain leverage over those governments. 

Biden’s plans include $2 billion for solar mini-grids, solar cabins with telecommunications capabilities in Angola; a $3.3 million grant to help begin work on a vaccine plant in Senegal; and a $600 million contract for an American telecoms company to build a submarine cable to connect Singapore with France through Egypt and the Horn of Africa. 

President Biden huddled with Emmanuel Macron (r) of France, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (background) and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen after the leaders posed for their 'family photo' on the first day of the G7 summit

President Biden huddled with Emmanuel Macron (r) of France, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (background) and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen after the leaders posed for their ‘family photo’ on the first day of the G7 summit

There is also money to study building a new type of nuclear reactor in Romania 

Biden’s day in the Bavarian Alps began with a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Sholz, and a promise that Vladimir Putin would not divide the G7 or NATO.

‘Thank you thank you… we have to stay together,’ he told Olaf Scholz as they looked out at the stunning mountain view at Schloss Elmau, the grand setting for the summit.

‘Because Putin is counting on from the beginning that NATO and the G7 would splinter. But we haven’t and we’re not going to.’

Russia and Ukraine will dominate the summit, as G7 leaders assess how well sanctions are working. They will also discuss the world’s worsening economic climate.

The timing of the summit could not be more timely with Ukrainian forces losing ground in the east of the country, and rockets falling on the capital Kyiv for the first time in three weeks. 

Scholz was waiting for Biden at a pavilion with panoramic Alpine views when Biden arrived on the decking. 

The two leaders took a moment to soak up the setting before sitting down to discuss the day’s agenda.

‘Don’t jump,’ Biden joked to Scholz when he saw him standing at the scenic deck overlook, the mountains visible in the distance. 

He removed his signature aviator sunglasses and shook Scholz hand, telling him ‘good to see you.’

President Joe Biden started his first day at the G7 meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

President Joe Biden started his first day at the G7 meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

They began by admiring the stunning Alpine views at the Schloss Elmau venue for the G7 venue in Germany

They began by admiring the stunning Alpine views at the Schloss Elmau venue for the G7 venue in Germany

President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed staying together on Russia's war against  Ukraine

President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed staying together on Russia’s war against  Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, and his wife Britta Ernst, right, pose with U.S. President Joe Biden during the official G7 summit welcome ceremony at Castle Elmau in Kruen

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, and his wife Britta Ernst, right, pose with U.S. President Joe Biden during the official G7 summit welcome ceremony at Castle Elmau in Kruen

‘I used to ski too I haven’t skied in a while,’ continued Biden. ‘It’s beautiful.’

Then it was down to business. 

In a statement after the meeting, the White House said the two also discussed climate issues and economic resilience.

‘Finally, the leaders also discussed the challenges posed by China and our shared commitment to provide transparent and high-standard solutions to address global gaps in key infrastructure,’ it said.

But Ukraine overshadowed much of the day, with Russian forces launching their first strikes on the capital Kyiv in weeks.

‘It’s more of their barbarism,’ said Biden during the official welcome ceremony for G7 leaders.

Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs Dmytro Kuleba tweeted a photo of a young girl being carried out of the rubble, strapped to a stretcher and being aided by emergency workers. Her father was killed and her mother was injuried, according to local reports.

‘This 7 y.o. Ukrainian kid was sleeping peacefully in Kyiv until a Russian cruise missile blasted her home. Many more around Ukraine are under strikes. G7 summit must respond with more sanctions on Russia and more heavy arms for Ukraine. Russia’s sick imperialism must be defeated,’ Kuleba wrote on Twitter. 

Culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko told local media that a kindergarten was hit. Before Sunday’s attack, Kyiv had not faced any Russian airstrikes since June 5. 

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told reporters in Kyiv that he believed the strike ‘is maybe a symbolic attack’ ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Madrid. 

G7 leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin when they sat down for their official lunch on Sunday

G7 leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin when they sat down for their official lunch on Sunday

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau mocked the 2009 photo of a shirtless Vladimir Putin riding a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region during his vacation

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau mocked the 2009 photo of a shirtless Vladimir Putin riding a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region during his vacation

But the leaders in Germany openly mocked Putin as they sat down for lunch, joking about his infamous barechested horseback riding photo.

Their laughter came as Biden was working to hold the western alliance in lockstep as the war in Ukraine entered its fifth month and Russia dropped bombs on Kyiv for the first time in weeks. 

‘Jackets on? Jackets off? Shall we take our clothes off?’ British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked as he sat down at the table with his fellow leaders of the world’s biggest economies. 

‘Let’s wait for the picture,’ Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. Officials were trying to take an official photo of the luncheon with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

‘We have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,’ Johnson said.

Trudeau then added: ‘We’re going to get the bare chested horseback riding display.’

He was referring to a 2009 photo of a shirtless Putin riding a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region during vacation. 

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