Day 1 of the 2021 G20 summit

By Kara Fox, Adrienne Vogt and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 4:25 p.m. ET, October 31, 2021
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3:05 p.m. ET, October 30, 2021

Biden congratulated Merkel and discussed Afghanistan in meeting with German chancellor

From CNN's DJ Judd

US President Biden congratulated outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel “on over 16 years of leadership on issues of importance to our shared security and prosperity and to the Transatlantic relationship,” during a meeting with Biden, Merkel, and Merkel’s anticipated successor, Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to a White House statement released Saturday.

The group “discussed the situation in Afghanistan, including efforts to ensure continued humanitarian assistance,” with Biden thanking Merkel for hosting 35,000 Afghans en route to the US, according to the statement.

“In addition, President Biden underscored the importance of continued work to implement the U.S.-Germany Joint Statement on Support for Ukraine and European Energy Security, to ensure that Russia cannot manipulate natural gas flows for harmful political purposes,” according to the White House.

3:02 p.m. ET, October 30, 2021

Senior administration official briefs reporters on Iran meeting and previews supply chain event

From CNN's DJ Judd

Following the first day of the G20 summit, a senior administration official briefed reporters traveling with US President Biden in Rome about today's meeting on Iran, China, Germany, Ukraine and tomorrow's supply chain event.

On Iran: According to the official, today’s meeting of UK, Germany, France and the US on Iran was a very informal, very engaged, very detailed and substantive strategic conversation about the way forward, about our concerns with respect to Iran's capabilities, our concerns about Iran's willingness to engage in a serious and meaningful way at the bargaining table.”

Still, the official maintained, the Biden administration “believes a diplomatic solution is the best solution to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

“And so they talked about next steps over the course of the next few weeks for how we can effectively shape the environment to give diplomacy the best chance of succeeding in the fastest possible timeframe to put a lid back on Iran's nuclear program,” the official added.

On Ukraine: The leaders also “had the opportunity to touch base briefly on the question of Ukraine, and, you know, all of them, of course, recommitted to Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty and reviewed questions related to how we can move diplomacy forward there, as well, particularly with respect to the Minsk agreements."

On Germany: On today’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her projected successor, Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the official told pool reporters, it was an opportunity for him to get to speak with Vice-Chancellor Scholz as he works to form a government, and also to tell Chancellor Merkel, that for every day she has remaining in office, he wants to stay intensively engaged with her, even as the German government undergoes a transition."

On China: In several meetings throughout the trip, the official said, China has remained “a prominent topic of conversation between the President and his European counterparts.”

“And it's not the caricature version of that conversation. It is a conversation that really takes account of the full complexity of the issue,” the official said. "And what we have found is really quite strong convergence with the leaders of Europe and the President on the nature of the challenge and what we need to do to deal with it … not as some kind of block formation or new Cold War-style engagement, but rather as dealing with a very complex challenge in a clear-eyed and highly coordinated way."

On supply chain chaos: Ahead of tomorrow’s supply chain event, the senior administration official said the focus will be, short-term, “about effectively identifying bottlenecks and then pursuing strategies to break those bottlenecks,” where Biden will “talk with a variety of leaders about what each country can step up and do in terms of its national action to help resolve those bottlenecks.”

The President will also “have a couple of announcements related to our own national stockpile of critical minerals and metals, our own resources that we will be devoting to trade facilitation to reduce blockages at key ports around the world, and he'll have a couple of other steps to announce tomorrow as well."

2:48 p.m. ET, October 30, 2021

Senior administration official clarifies Biden's remarks on Iran talks: "There's not a date”

From CNN's DJ Judd

A senior administration official clarified remarks Saturday from US President Biden that talks with Iran are “scheduled to resume.”

“There's not a date. What he was referring to was the Iranians and the EU, from a couple of days ago, having indicated that the talks will begin before the end of November, and we would like them to begin as urgently as possible,” the administration official told pool reporters during a background briefing in Rome.

Earlier Saturday, during a photo spray with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Biden responded to a shouted question from reporters on whether he wanted stalled negotiations with Iran to restart, saying, "They're scheduled to resume."

1:51 p.m. ET, October 30, 2021

Biden met with Germany's Merkel today, will hold a bilateral meeting with Turkey's Erdogan tomorrow

From CNN's DJ Judd

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and US President Joe Biden pose for the media at the La Nuvola conference center for the G20 summit on October 30th, in Rome.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and US President Joe Biden pose for the media at the La Nuvola conference center for the G20 summit on October 30th, in Rome. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool/Getty Images)

President Biden will hold a bilateral meeting tomorrow with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a senior administration official.

Biden previously met with the Turkish president following June’s NATO meeting in Brussels. After that meeting, Biden told reporters the interaction was "positive and productive." In April, Biden became the first US president to recognize the Armenian genocide, a move that risked alienating Turkey.

Earlier today: Biden met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Merkel’s likely successor.

According to the official, Biden “made the point that we need to see adequate supply of energy in this moment as we make the long-term transition to a carbon-free economy.”

1:03 p.m. ET, October 30, 2021

Biden attends Mass in Rome after meeting with leaders at G20

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

 US President Joe Biden in Rome for the G20 Summit on October 29.
US President Joe Biden in Rome for the G20 Summit on October 29. (Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

After meeting with world leaders at the G20 summit, US President Biden attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome, according to a White House official.

Biden, who met with the Pope for 90 minutes on Friday ahead of the summit, goes to Mass most Saturdays.

Biden said Pope Francis had told him he was pleased he was a "good Catholic," and that he should continue receiving communion, despite opposition from some conservative American bishops over his support for abortion.

Biden spent about half an hour inside St. Patrick’s Church. The President and first lady Jill Biden were seen speaking with some members of the clergy as they departed.

The President is next scheduled today to attend the G20 official dinner.

11:45 a.m. ET, October 30, 2021

US and European leaders say they are "convinced" an Iran nuclear deal can be quickly restored

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The leaders of the US, France, Germany and Britain said in a joint statement Saturday that they are "convinced that it is possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to full compliance" on the Iran nuclear deal after talks have stalled.

After meeting on the margins of the G20 summit, the leaders said that a return to compliance would "provide sanctions lifting with long-lasting implications for Iran’s economic growth."

"This will only be possible if Iran changes course," the leaders wrote, addressing Iran's new hardline leader, President Ebrahim Raisi. "We call upon President Raisi to seize this opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency. That is the only sure way to avoid a dangerous escalation, which is not in any country’s interest."

11:15 a.m. ET, October 30, 2021

UK PM calls French threats in fishing dispute "completely unjustified" in meeting with EU president

From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Martin Goillandeau

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden hold an E3 meeting at the G20 Summit on October 30, in Rome.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden hold an E3 meeting at the G20 Summit on October 30, in Rome. Jeff J Mitchell

In a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised concerns about rhetoric from the French government in recent days over the issue of fishing licenses.

Johnson stressed that French threats were “completely unjustified” and “did not appear to be compatible with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement or wider international law,” a spokesperson for Downing Street said in a statement.

Johnson “reiterated that the UK has granted 98% of license applications from EU vessels to fish in the UK’s waters and is happy to consider any further evidence for the remaining 2%,” according to the statement.

Johnson and von der Leyen also touched upon on the ongoing disagreements between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, with Johnson welcoming “the constructive talks which have taken place and are continuing between the UK and the EU” over the issue. 

However, Johnson told the EU chief that “substantial gaps remain between [the two parties’] positions, including on the issue of governance, and noted that real progress must be achieved soon,” according to the Downing Street statement.

“The Prime Minister underlined the need to agree solutions rapidly to safeguard the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and reduce disruption to families and businesses in Northern Ireland,” it added.

11:07 a.m. ET, October 30, 2021

Protesters continue to march in Rome amid G20 summit

From CNN’s Ben Wedeman and Chris Liakos

People protest against the G20 on the sidelines of the G20 of World Leaders Summit on October 30, in the district of the Pyramid of Cestius in Rome.
People protest against the G20 on the sidelines of the G20 of World Leaders Summit on October 30, in the district of the Pyramid of Cestius in Rome. Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

Protesters and climate activists continue to march peacefully in Rome to urge G20 leaders to take action on climate change.

They’re marching, singing, dancing and chanting “Power to the people!” while holding banners reading “You G20, we the future.” There is a heavy police presence in the area. 

Police say they expect 5,000 to 10,000 people to join. Protesters include workers who have lost their jobs from globalization, climate activists, communists, and trade unionists.

Italian authorities have beefed up security, deploying extra police personnel for the duration of the summit as a prevention measure.

Some context: At the G8 summit in Genoa back in 2001, Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old Italian protester, was killed by police during riots that broke out.

10:31 a.m. ET, October 30, 2021

UK prime minister says there's "no chance" of stopping climate change at COP26

From CNN's Robert Iddiols

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, visits the Colosseum during the G20 summit on October 30, in Rome.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, visits the Colosseum during the G20 summit on October 30, in Rome. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes “there is no chance of getting an agreement next week to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees,” he said during an interview with British broadcaster ITV on Saturday. 

Johnson spoke to media outlets in Rome ahead of the G20 summit and answered questions on his hopes for the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow due to begin on Sunday. 

“Where we stand today, there is no chance of stopping climate change next week,” Johnson said. “If everybody gets their act together, what we could do is get an agreement that means COP26 in Glasgow is a way station that allows us to end climate change and keep alive that dream of 1.5 degrees.” 

Some context: Six years have passed since the landmark climate agreement in Paris that saw world leaders pledge to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

“We have a moment now when we can try to take some of the nebulous commitments in Paris, solidify them into hard fast commitments to cut emissions, to cut use of coal and so on,” Johnson told ITV. "We want those leaders – more than a hundred of them – coming to our country really to focus on the commitments that they can make."

Speaking inside the ruins of Rome’s ancient Coliseum, Johnson drew a comparison to the fall of the Roman Empire and the climate challenge facing the world today. 

“You could not have a more vivid metaphor for the risks that humanity is running,” Johnson said. “The Romans thought that they were going to on forever, they thought their empire was going to flourish forever, and then, Wham!” 

“The lesson is: things can go backwards,” he said. “Unless we halt that massive growth in temperatures, that’s the risk we run.”