The Latest: France, India agree to boost Indo-Pacific ties

International News

Italian ‘Carabinieri’ paramilitary policeman patrols in front of La Nuvola (the cloud) convention center where the G20 summit is scheduled to take place in Rome, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. A Group of 20 summit scheduled for this weekend in Rome is the first in-person gathering of leaders of the world’s biggest economies since the COVID-19 pandemic started. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the Group of 20 summit taking place in Rome:

ROME — French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have agreed to boost ties in the Indo-Pacific region during a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit.

Macron’s office said France and India will open a “strategic dialogue” next week in Paris to set a common agenda. The talks will address bilateral, regional and international issues.

France has said India is its “main partner” in the Indo-Pacific area after the announcement in September of a secretly negotiated submarine deal between Australia, the U.S. and Britain.

Macron’s office listed “trust” and “independence” amid principles which must guide France and India’s actions in the region shaken by concerns over the growing influence of China.

Macron also met Saturday with Presidents Joko Widodo of Indonesia and Moon Jae-in of South Korea about similar issues.

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ROME— Leaders have expressed “broad support” for a landmark deal to establish a 15% global minimum corporate tax that aims at deterring multinational countries from using clever accounting to elude taxes by using low-rate havens.

Leaders spoke on the proposal during the opening session Saturday of the summit, said officials from host country Italy. Following formal approval to be reflected in Sunday’s closing statement, countries would enact the minimum tax on their own. The idea is that headquarters countries would top up a company’s tax to 15% if the firm’s profits went undertaxed in another country.

In today’s digital and global economy profits can come from intangibles such as copyrights and trademarks, and can thus be easily shifted to countries offering near-zero taxes in hopes of attracting revenue they otherwise wouldn’t have.

A key question is whether the U.S. Congress will pass legislation to comply, since the U.S. is home to 28% of the world’s 2,000 largest multinationals.

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ROME — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he unsuccessfully pressed President Xi Jinping to increase China’s carbon-cutting goals ahead of a key United Nations climate change summit.

China released an updated version of its climate targets this week, promising to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 and to have carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030.

Johnson told reporters that he “pushed” Xi to move the peak to 2025 when the two men spoke by phone on Friday.

“I wouldn’t say he committed on that,” Johnson said as he flew to Rome for a G-20 summit. On Sunday Johnson will host world leaders, though not Xi, at the two-week climate conference in Scotland.

Johnson said Xi explained about China’s heavy dependence on coal power, and Johnson said that he replied that the U.K. had cut its own coal reliance from 40% of energy in 2008 to 1% today. Johnson said China should embrace technology to speed the transition to green energy.

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ROME — U.S. first lady Jill Biden says she and Brigitte Macron, her French counterpart, sipped wine together as if they were sisters.

The women spent about an hour Friday getting better acquainted at an Italian restaurant in Rome.

Their husbands, President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, were meeting elsewhere in the city to ease tensions that flared after France felt blindsided by a U.S.-U.K.-Australia military deal.

The leaders are in Rome to attend the Group of 20 nations summit.

Upon leaving the restaurant, Jill Biden said the meeting with Brigitte Macron was “wonderful.”

She added: “It’s nice, two friends together, just like sisters.”

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ROME — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has arrived in Italy for a Group of 20 summit with a stark message: modern civilization may crumble like Ancient Rome if world leaders don’t act to curb climate change.

Johnson told reporters on his plane that Rome’s ruins “are a fantastic reminder, a memento mori for us today … that humanity, civilization, society can go backwards as well as forwards, and when things start to go wrong they can go wrong with extraordinary speed.”

After the two-day G-20 meeting, Johnson is set to host a two-week U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Johnson will urge G-20 leaders to act more quickly, saying the world’s rich countries, which grew wealthy from using the fossil fuels that promote global warming, must bear the brunt of fighting climate change.

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ROME — France has donated 67 million vaccine doses to the world’s poorest countries, making it the second country after the United States to have given the most to the UN-backed COVAX vaccine initiative.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that France has met its commitments regarding vaccine donations, which have benefited over 45 countries, including around 30 in Africa. France has pledged to donate another 60 million doses by mid-2022.

The announcement comes as health and finance officials who gathered ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Rome warned of a two-track pandemic recovery, with COVID-19 vaccine shortages and spending gaps slowing poorer countries from bouncing back after the pandemic.

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ROME — Health and finance officials who gathered ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Rome warned of a two-track pandemic recovery, with COVID-19 vaccine and spending gaps slowing poorer countries from bouncing back.

Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund, said Friday that efforts to speed vaccinations were short $20 billion needed to pursue a goal of 40% of the world vaccinated by year’s end and 70% by the middle of next year.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the increasing divergence between developing and developed countries would be “a major strategic risk for the rest of the world.”

The ministers decided to create a G-20 joint task force to ensure efforts to combat the pandemic and prevent future ones are adequately funded.

The G-20 has supported the UN-backed COVAX initiative, which has failed to alleviate dire shortages in poor countries. Summit negotiators have been focusing on efforts to strengthen local health resources, vaccine supply chains and vaccine production in less prosperous countries.

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ROME — Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to calm stormy waters over fishing with France as he flew to Rome for a G-20 summit, where he is due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

“France is one of our best, oldest, closest, allies, friends and partners,” he told reporters. “The ties that unite us, that bind us together are far stronger than the turbulence that currently exist in the relationship.”

Calling Macron “a friend,” he said that people on either side of the Channel may be trying to stir up disharmony between the U.K. and France, but “I don’t think Emmanuel shares that perspective.”

“I’m puzzled about what’s going on,” Johnson said. He said there appeared to be an “implicit” breach of the legally binding Brexit divorce treaty in France’s threats — and reiterated Britain’s willingness to respond to any French sanctions.

“We will stand by to take the appropriate action,” he said. “Any infraction of that agreement, by France or any other partner, is something we would obviously need to respond to.”

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ROME — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow may not provide the boost for global efforts to fight climate change that many are hoping for.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a G-20 summit in Rome, Guterres said “there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver.”

He said that despite updated climate targets by many countries, “we are still careening towards climate catastrophe.”

Guterres said there are “serious questions” about some of those pledges and noted that collectively they won’t be enough to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, the target set in U.N. talks on fighting climate change.

He said G-20 leaders in Rome, whose countries are responsible for most of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions, have an opportunity to “put things on track” for the Glasgow talks, which will begin as the Rome summit ends.

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VATICAN CITY — U.S. President Joe Biden has arrived at the Vatican for a private meeting with Pope Francis.

The world’s two most notable Roman Catholics plan to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and poverty.

Biden and his wife Jill arrived at the Vatican in an unusually long motorcade of more than 80 vehicles, owing in part to Italian COVID-19 restrictions on the number of people sharing a car. A dozen Swiss Guards stood at attention in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace to greet them.

Biden is in Rome for the Group of 20 summit.

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VATICAN CITY — South Korean President Moon Jae-in has given Pope Francis a statue of a cross made with barbed wire from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.

Moon, a Catholic, called on Francis on Friday before the start of the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

The Vatican, which didn’t allow independent media in the audience, said Francis gave Moon a medallion replicating Bernini’s original plan for St. Peter’s Square. The design envisages the two main colonnades of the piazza embracing humanity in the church.

South Korean presidential officials had said they expected Moon and the pope to discuss a possible papal visit to North Korea since Francis had previously expressed a desire to do so if it becomes possible. Moon first floated the idea of a papal visit to the North in 2018 when he revealed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had said the pope would be “enthusiastically” welcomed in the officially atheist North.

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ROME — Italy is deploying 5,300 extra troops and police officers, curbing public transport and sealing off a whole neighborhood of Rome to keep the peace during this weekend’s Group of 20 summit.

Police were out in force already Friday as leaders began arriving, and schools in the Italian capital canceled afternoon activities so students could get home before most roadblocks were set up. Protests and demonstrations were planned throughout the weekend.

The main security zone was around the “Nuvola” cloud-like convention center in Rome’s Fascist-era EUR neighborhood. But other areas were being cordoned off at different times depending on where the leaders were, including around the presidential palace and even the Trevi Fountain.

COVID-19 economic recovery and climate change are the two main issues being discussed by the leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies, who are gathering in Rome before heading to Glasgow, Scotland, for the U.N. climate conference.

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