Day 1 of the 2021 G7 summit

By Ivana Kottasová, Aditi Sangal, Nick Thompson, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 11:35 a.m. ET, June 13, 2021
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10:10 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

First lady Jill Biden and the Duchess of Cambridge visit classroom in Cornwall 

From CNN's Aditi Sangal


First Lady Jill Biden and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, met for the first time at the Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, Cornwall.

The classroom was full of children around the ages of four and five.

“It’s the quietest class I’ve ever been into,” the Duchess said.

The teacher shared that the children are learning about how to make the world greener and a better place, "which is what we know the G7 is all about," he said.

Biden said early childhood education during a pandemic is "very important."

"It is the foundation of everything. I can tell you that as a teacher in the upper levels, if they don't have a good foundation, they fall so far behind. So this is amazing to see what these children are doing, and how far advanced they are at 4 and 5 years old," she said.

The children also shared their reading skills with Biden and the duchess.

The two women later sat at a table where the children were drawing their own renditions of famous landmarks, including the White House. Biden pointed to parts of it to the children, like where her bedroom was.

Watch Jill Biden and the Duchess interact with the children:

CNN's Arlette Saenz contributed reporting to this post.

7:29 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

German chancellor Angela Merkel will visit White House in July

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured during a press conference on June 10, in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured during a press conference on June 10, in Berlin, Germany. Pool/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden will welcome German chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House next month, the White House said on Friday.

Biden has not met formally with Merkel, but has spoken to her by phone. He will see her in person at the G7 summit in Cornwall.

The White House said Merkel will visit on July 15. It will be her first visit to Washington during Biden's presidency, and likely her final US visit in a long era as chancellor.

Merkel is not seeking a fifth term and will depart office. Elections to replace her are in September.

"Chancellor Merkel’s visit will affirm the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany," the White House said.

"The leaders will discuss their commitment to close cooperation on a range of common challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values." 

8:31 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

And here's what's for dinner tonight ...

No high-level political summit is ever complete without a swanky dinner featuring local delicacies.

Queen Elizabeth and other senior members of the royal family are set to meet G7 leaders and their partners at a reception in Cornwall, England on Friday. The 95-year-old Queen, the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the reception at the Eden Project, a famous visitor attraction located in a reclaimed china clay pit. 

The Eden Project is pictured in June 2020 in St Austel, England.
The Eden Project is pictured in June 2020 in St Austel, England. Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

While the hosting country's national cuisine tends to dominate formal menus at events like this, there while be no fish and chips or beans on toast on the menu for Friday.

Instead, the meal that chef Emily Scott will serve to the G7 leaders will reflect the location of the G7 summit, Cornwall. Here is the menu, according to a statement from the Downing Street:

  • Spiced melon, gazpacho, coconut, high-note herbs
  • Turbot roasted on the bone, caught by Cornish fishermen off the coast at Newquay; Cornish new potatoes and wild garlic with greens from the local Padstow kitchen gardens
  • Cornish cheese — Gouda, Yarg, Helford Blue
  • English Strawberry Pavlova 
  • Petits Fours: Clotted cream fudge, Mini-clotted cream ice-cream cone with chocolate Earl Grey truffles

CNN's Luke McGee and Lindsay Isaac contributed reporting to this post. 

7:19 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

First Lady Jill Biden is meeting with Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge today

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, left, and First Lady Jill Biden.
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, left, and First Lady Jill Biden. AFP/WPA Pool/Getty Images

First lady Jill Biden will meet with Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge this week while she is in England, Kensington Palace told CNN on Thursday, as the first family makes their first international trip.

Biden and Kate will focus on children and education during their first-ever meeting on Friday, a White House official told CNN. The two women will participate in a roundtable about early childhood education and tour a school in Cornwall.

Another White House official said the event would include touring a classroom and a walk outside for a show and tell from the children of how they take care of rabbits. The two women will also hold a roundtable with early childhood experts from the US over Zoom.

Kate, with her husband the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, has taken a larger public-facing role in recent years in the United Kingdom, championing causes including mental health, the overall well-being of children, the importance of sports and visual arts, as well as the importance of getting the Covid-19 vaccine. She posted a photo of herself on her social media accounts receiving her first dose on May 29.

Biden has also taken several recent trips to various parts of the United States encouraging people to get vaccinated. The meeting in England between Biden and the Duchess has been in the works for the last couple of weeks, a White House official tells CNN.

The first lady is accompanying President Joe Biden for his first Group of 7 summit, which is being held in Cornwall, England, from Friday to Sunday. The Bidens arrived in England on Wednesday. On Thursday, the President and first lady met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson. Jill Biden and Carrie Johnson had a separate meeting over tea and a tour of St. Michael's Mount off the coast of Cornwall.

Some more background: The President and first lady will also meet with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Sunday. It will be the Queen's first major meeting with a world leader since the death of her husband, Prince Philip, in April, and comes after a year in which most of her in-person engagements were postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jill Biden will return to the United States after meeting the Queen.

While Jill Biden has for several years been friends with Prince Harry, whom she met in 2012 while second lady, she has not met other senior members of the royal family.

7:04 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

Thousands protest in Belfast against Northern Ireland protocol, casting shadow over G7 summit

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

The Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit agreement, is expected to come up during the G7 summit discussion -- but protesters in Belfast, Northern Ireland have already expressed their anger with the current situation.

Protests erupted in Belfast on Thursday night, as more than 3,000 people took part in an unplanned procession through the city, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. 

Social media footage from the scene showed loyalist protesters setting fire to a large united Ireland banner used by republican party Sinn Féin.

Loyalists maintain that the protocol, which seeks to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU), impinges upon their sense of British identity.

To prevent the hard border, the protocol keeps Northern Ireland in the EU's customs area and single market for goods, meaning there is no need for physical checks for goods crossing the border. But in doing so, the arrangement has created a de facto sea border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Talks between the UK and EU over the protocol have stalled with the bloc pushing for it to be implemented. The UK has yet to fully implement the protocol, for fear of food shortages in Northern Ireland among other things.

US President Joe Biden has maintained his commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 peace accord that ended three decades of violence.

Biden discussed the situation with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the run-up to the summit in Cornwall.  

Johnson denied rumors that Biden had pressured him over the implementation of the protocol, telling reporters the US, UK and EU “have one thing we absolutely all want to do, and that is to uphold the Good Friday, the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going.”

7:37 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

Biden "extremely sympathetic" over the case of Harry Dunn

Harry Dunn
Harry Dunn Family Handout

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that US President Joe Biden expressed a “great deal of sympathy” over the case of Harry Dunn, a British teenager who died after being hit by a car driven by a US diplomat’s wife.

Anne Sacoolas, the driver, claimed diplomatic immunity and left the UK after the crash outside RAF Croughton, a central England military base controlled by the US Air Force.

Britain's attempt to extradite Sacoolas to face charges of causing death by dangerous driving was declined by US authorities, and the incident has sparked an ongoing diplomatic spat between the two countries.

In a statement to CNN, a Downing Street spokesperson said the “tragic” issue was raised with Biden and said Johnson “reiterated” that the UK “wants to see justice for the family.” 

"He has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue," Johnson told the BBC. Biden's first wife and an infant daughter were killed in a car crash in 1972.

"He was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on," Johnson added.

Last year, the UK and US agreed to revise an "anomaly" that allowed Sacoolas, the wife of a former US diplomat, to leave Britain. Under the terms of the revised agreement, family members of staff based at RAF Croughton will no longer be given immunity from criminal jurisdiction and will face criminal prosecution where applicable.

In a statement, Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said Thursday that they were “incredibly grateful” that the case was being taken “so seriously as to be raised on the eve of the G7 meeting.”

“We very much hope that President Biden takes a different view to the previous administration given his deeply personal connection to the case having suffered loss in similar circumstances,” the statement from the family’s lawyer Radd Seiger said. 

The White House declined to comment on the conversation, but a spokesperson for the National Security Council told CNN, “We again offer our sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son. This was a tragic accident. The United States has remained closely engaged with the UK government, and we have been transparent about our positions on legal and diplomatic matters concerning this accident.”

Some more context: Former President Trump once tried to intervene in Dunn's case, even meeting with his parents at the White House in October 2019. Dunn's parents were caught off guard when Trump told them Anne Sacoolas was in room next door. Dunn's parents rejected Trump's offer to meet with her.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Zahid Mahmood contributed reporting to this post.

7:26 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

Queen leads royal charm offensive at the G7

By CNN's Luke McGee

Queen Elizabeth II is seen during a visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth, England, on May 22.
Queen Elizabeth II is seen during a visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth, England, on May 22. Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images

On the first day of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Boris Johnson is, even by his own dramatic standards, putting on a show.

Johnson’s G7 leaders will today have the full force of Britain’s greatest diplomatic asset hurled at them, as they are invited to join none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, along with other senior members of the family, for a reception before dinner tonight.

The dinner will take place at the world-famous Eden Project, a striking collection of biomes, one of which is home to the largest indoor rainforest on earth.

While the dinner will be the main royal event of the day, leaders will meet with other members of the world’s most famous family to discuss issues on which some members of the family have been long-term campaigners. Prince Charles, for example, will meet with leaders and representatives from the world of business to discuss the coordinated effort to tackle climate change, one of the British government’s top priorities as it gears up to host COP26 later this year.

Meanwhile, First Lady Jill Biden will meet with future Queen Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, to talk about children’s education, another major international focus of Johnson’s government. 

Rolling out the royals in this way is nothing new and plenty of British prime ministers have used the pomp of state visits to curry favor with world leaders. However, they are doing so at a time of particular tumult for the monarchy. 

It was only a few weeks ago that the family was mourning its patriarch, after Prince Philip died at the age of 99. And the family is in the middle of a very public spat with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, following their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they accused an unnamed senior royal making racist statements. 

Yesterday, things were not looking so good for Johnson, as he appeared on track for a collision course with the US President over Brexit. However, the US diplomatic pushback over reports that Biden had issued a demarche over Northern Ireland meant Johnson could sleep easy. Now, he can sit back and enjoy dazzling his fellow leaders as they rub shoulders with Britain’s biggest rockstars.

This post has been updated to clarify that the Queen will host G7 leaders before the dinner on Friday.

10:31 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

Vaccine pledges are a "step in the right direction" but need to go further, top health charity says

Pledges made by the UK and US to donate Covid-19 vaccines to developing world are "a step in the right direction, but they don’t go far enough, fast enough," according to the Wellcome Trust, a leading UK charity focused on health research.

Alex Harris, Wellcome's director of government relations, said in a statement that the G7 must show the political leadership the pandemic demands. "We urge G7 leaders to raise their ambition," he said, adding:

“To date, G7 countries have distributed over 528 million doses to their combined 610 million population: in contrast, African countries, with twice as many people, have distributed just 34 million. COVAX is facing a shortfall of 190 million doses by the end of June, and G7 countries are the only ones who can make significant volumes of doses available now."

COVAX is a global vaccine sharing initiative run by a coalition that includes the Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations and its mission is to buy coronavirus vaccines in bulk and send them to poorer nations that can't compete with wealthy countries in securing contracts with the major drug companies.

The UK said overnight it will donate at least 100 million surplus Covid-19 vaccine doses to COVAX. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the US plans to donate 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses globally. 

However, Harris said that to end the pandemic, the G7 leaders must agree to do the following:

  • Commit to collectively share at least 1 billion vaccine doses this year and not over the next 12 months.
  • Fund the $18.1 billion gap faced by the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (the ACT) so tests and treatments can be accessed by all. 
  • Ensure that an equitable amount of vaccine manufacturing capacity during 2022 is reserved for low- and middle-income countries.
10:38 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021

"Big change" to see Biden leading on climate after Trump policies, UK environment secretary says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's global Covid-19 vaccination efforts ahead of the G7 summit, June 10, in St. Ives, England.
President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's global Covid-19 vaccination efforts ahead of the G7 summit, June 10, in St. Ives, England. Patrick Semansky/AP

British Environment Secretary George Eustice said it was “a big change” to see the US engaging in global climate action following the lack of commitment on the issue from the Trump administration.

It's really welcome that the United States is back at the table on this agenda. The world can’t make progress here, unless we get very big players, including the united States at the table,” he told CNN.

While the Trump administration rolled back many of the climate commitments the US had made in the past, the Biden administration has “completely changed the US stance on this,” Eustice said.

Referring to his meeting with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Eustice said:

“It’s clear now that there is a real appetite in the US to play its part and take that global leadership again on this agenda. They are, now, really leading in this field.”

Eustice said he spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about his bilateral meeting with Biden, and that Johnson called it “a breath of fresh air” to have the US back at the table again. "So, I think it is a big change," Eustice said.

Apart from the G7 summit, the UK is also hosting the COP26 climate meeting later this year. Eustice says the aim is to get “more ambitious targets from countries to reduce their carbon emissions.”

The UK has already set its nationally determined contribution at 68% by the end of this decade, and “we’ve already said that by 2035, we want to 78% reduction against our 1990 level,” Eustice added.

However, the government's own independent climate advisor, the UK Climate Change Committee, said the government needs to put in place a firm and detailed plan on how to achieve the goal.