G-7 'circus' gives leaders a chance to hug, hustle and joke

US President Joe Biden (left) talks with France's President Emmanuel Macron after they posed for the G-7 family photo.
US President Joe Biden (left) talks with France's President Emmanuel Macron after they posed for the G-7 family photo.PHOTO: AFP

CARBIS BAY, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Boris Johnson cast the Group of Seven (G-7) summit as a "gigantic media circus" on Thursday (June 11) after leaders were paraded before journalists and US President Joe Biden walked arm-in-arm up the beach discussing democracy with France's Emmanuel Macron.

G-7 summits are notorious for anodyne and slightly ridiculous photo opportunities which leave world leaders struggling to seem natural in bizarre contexts - for example meeting another world leader on a small, overcast English beach.

Under grey clouds, British prime minister Johnson, with ruffled blonde hair, and his new wife Carrie, greeted other G-7 leaders and their partners on a specially constructed wooden gangway beside the Atlantic.

After the leaders returned for a socially distanced "family photograph", Germany's Angela Merkel urged Johnson ahead, telling him: "You are the leader."

French President Macron held back, making a few remarks to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, before Biden draped his arm around Macron who returned the embrace.

They walked smiling, arm-in-arm along the walkway, discussing affairs of state.

The Elysee Palace said Macron and Biden had talked about "how to make democracies more efficient for the middle class and on China said there should be no confrontation but that we should defend our values and interests".

As he opened the summit, Johnson said it would be hugely significant after the "wretched pandemic" and speculated that perhaps leaders could rebuild in "a more gender neutral, a more feminine, way".

Ordering the media to leave the meeting after his initial remarks, Johnson said: "This is meant to be a fireside chat between the great democracies of the world - it's turned into a gigantic media circus in which we have to greet each other several times."


Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) greets France's President Emmanuel Macron with an elbow bump. PHOTO: AFP


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bumps elbow's with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's wife, Carrie, as the British PM looks on. PHOTO: EPA-EFE


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk together at the G-7 meet-up in Carbis Bay, Cornwall. PHOTO: EPA-EFE


Social distancing was adhered to during the G-7 "family photo" (above). PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Such was the awkwardness of many of the staged encounters that US First Lady Jill Biden quipped: "I feel like we are at a wedding".

Johnson, whose recent marriage is his third, said it was like "walking down the aisle".

President Biden urged journalists to go swimming, feigning an order: "Everybody in the water."

When asked what his message would be to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet in Geneva next week, Biden said: "I'll tell you after I have delivered it."