Gala dinner for world leaders at G-20 summit



The Latest on the Group of 20 summit taking place in Rome:

ROME — World leaders are capping their day of Group of 20 summitry on Saturday with a gala dinner at the Quirinale Palace.

Their dinner menu included marinated salmon, risotto with pumpkin and white truffle, and sea bass, with a tangerine cream dessert.

The White House said President Joe Biden was to be seated next to European Union Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and President Sergio Mattarella of Italy. First lady Jill Biden was to be seated next to French President Emmanuel Macron.


ROME — Presidents Joe Biden of the U.S. and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have discussed a U.S.-brokered deal between pharmaceutical maker Moderna and the African Union to make up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine available to the continent.

Tshisekedi is also chair of the African Union.

The White House says the leaders met Saturday on the margins of the Group of 20 leader’s summit being held in Rome.

Under the arrangement, the U.S. will defer delivery of about 33 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine originally intended for the U.S. so that the African Union can buy them instead.

Africa and its 1.3 billion people remain the least-vaccinated region of the world against COVID-19, with just over 5% fully vaccinated.


ROME — The landmark international tax deal that won support Saturday at the Group of 20 summit will make international business taxation more equitable and help governments fund their recoveries from the pandemic, the head of the international organization that oversaw the negotiations said..

Mathias Cormann, the secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that the deal “will make our international tax arrangements fairer and work better in a digitalized and globalized economy.”

The Paris-based OECD oversaw talks that led to an agreement among 136 countries that is being presented to the G-20 for approval in the closing statement expected Sunday, to be followed by enactment at the national level from 2023.

The deal calls for countries where multinationals are headquartered to enact a global corporate minimum tax of 15%. If their companies’ foreign earnings go untaxed or lightly taxed in low-rate countries, the home countries would collect a top-up tax to the minimum.

The global minimum “completely eliminates the incentive for businesses around the world to restructure their affairs to avoid tax,” Cormann said.

Cormann disagreed with criticism from tax justice advocates and some developing countries that the rate should have been higher, saying the deal was the consensus result of “give and take all the way around” that included developing countries. “A 15% corporate tax rate is 15% more than what we have,” he said.


ROME — Group of 20 leaders have unanimously endorsed a global minimum tax on corporations in a move being hailed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen as benefiting American businesses and workers.

Finance ministers of Group of 20 countries a few months earlier had agreed on a 15% minimum tax and its formal endorsement at the summit Saturday in Rome of the world’s economic powerhouses was widely expected.

Yellen predicted in a statement that the deal on new international tax rules, with a minimum global tax, “will end the damaging race to the bottom on corporate taxation.”

The summit concludes on Sunday afternoon.


ROME— President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome for Saturday Vigil Mass, a day after telling reporters that Pope Francis told him he should continue to receive Communion, despite the opposition of some conservatives in the U.S. upset with his position on abortion.

Biden’s is attending the English-speaking church that is the main place of worship for the American Catholic community in Rome and is just down the block from the U.S. Embassy.

The stop came between events at the Group of 20 summit taking place this weekend in Rome.

Biden regularly attends Mass in Washington or near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Among Biden’s gifts to the pope on Friday was a woven chasuble, or liturgical vestment, made in 1930 by the famed papal tailor Gammarelli and used by the pope’s Jesuit order in the U.S., where it was held in the archives of Holy Trinity Church, the president’s regular parish in Washington.


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.


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.


ROME — A few dozen protesters demanding that government leaders take incisive action on climate change have been carried away by police from the main boulevard near the G-20 summit site in Rome.

Hours before the leaders of the United States, Britain, France and other economic powerhouse nations arrived on Saturday for the start of the two-day gathering, the activists blocked the road, holding banners, including one that read, “From Rome to Glasgow, your solutions are the problem.”

On Sunday evening, many of the G-20 leaders will fly to Glasgow, Scotland, for a crucial climate summit.

When the demonstrators refused to budge, police officers lifted them bodily and moved them to a side road, where the protesters continued to lie down or sit on the pavement, blocking traffic.

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced alarm that the climate meeting might see leaders fail to deliver on promises, leaving humanity facing a “calamitous” rise in global temperatures.


ROME — The French presidency says European Union leaders will meet with African leaders in efforts to further support the continent’s poorest economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The informal meeting later Saturday will be hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron at France’s embassy in Rome on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.

Macron told reporters on Friday he expects the G-20 to confirm an additional $100 billion to support Africa’s economies.

The money would be provided via the reallocation to African nations of some special drawing rights, a foreign exchange tool used to help finance imports issued by the International Monetary Fund and initially meant to go to advanced economies.

Participants at the meeting will include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel, as well as African Union President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Heads of state of South Africa and Senegal, Cyril Ramaphosa and Macky Sall, will take part via videoconference, the Elysee said.


ROME — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denied that his government’s policies on coal and air travel undermine his message that the world needs to wean itself off of fossil fuels.

Johnson will welcome world leaders to Glasgow, Scotland, for a United Nations climate summit on Sunday and wants them to improve on their commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

But at home, his government this week slashed tax on domestic air fares, and it is considering whether to approve the U.K.’s first deep coal mine for decades.

Johnson said Saturday that Britain’s pledge on cutting carbon dioxide emissions was one of the “punchiest” of any country.

“People can see what Britain has done,” Johnson said in Rome, where he is attending a G-20 summit. “When I was a child, 80% of our power came from hydrocarbons,” but by 2035 “we will not have any hydrocarbons in our power generation at all. We’re the most ambitious country in Europe.

“By 2030, we’re saying that we won’t have hydrocarbon internal combustion engines for new cars. That’s a very, very ambitious timetable.”


ROME — U.S. President Joe Biden was greeted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi after arriving at the Group of 20 summit site in Rome, before joining other world leaders for a “family photo.”

Biden shook hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he is expected to have a bilateral meeting at the upcoming U.N. climate summit in Scotland, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he met on Friday.

Biden was placed by organizers to the far left of the stage in the first row, where he spoke warmly with African Union Chair Félix Tshisekedi. The U.S. recently brokered a deal for the African Union to purchase doses of the Moderna COVID-19 for the first time.


ROME — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was a late arrival for the leaders’ “family photo” at the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

Other leaders had already gathered on a raised platform in front of a row of flags when Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked over from a bilateral meeting. Some of the waiting leaders made humorous chiding sounds at the latecomers.

Johnson greeted U.S. President Joe Biden with a call of “Hey, Joe” as he took his place.

Johnson stood behind French President Emmanuel Macron, amid a U.K.-France spat over fishing licences. The two men exchanged a mock-combative fist bump but did not appear to speak to one another.

Other leaders variously bumped fists, shook hands or performed the “namaste” greeting. Macron gave Biden a two-handed clasp accompanied by a forearm pat.

The leaders were joined for photos by a group of medics, firefighters and other front-line workers, who were applauded by the assembled politicians.


VATICAN CITY — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited Pope Francis to visit the country, after plans for a visit in 2017 fell apart.

Modi made the invitation Saturday during a lengthy meeting at the Vatican before he headed to join the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

In a tweet, Modi wrote: “Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India.”

The Vatican’s official communique said only that Modi’s visit with the Vatican’s secretary of state was brief and that “the cordial relations between the Holy See and India were discussed.”

Francis had hoped to visit India and Bangladesh in 2017. After negotiations with the Indian government dragged on, Francis went instead to Bangladesh and Myanmar.


ROME — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. will donate 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to developing countries as part of efforts to share vaccines with countries that sorely lack them.

Johnson made the announcement as he arrived in Rome for a summit of Group of 20 leaders, which starts Saturday.

The U.K. says 10 million doses have been sent to the United Nations-backed COVAX vaccine-sharing program, and 10 million more will follow in the coming weeks.

They join 10 million doses that have already been delivered, and form part of Britain’s commitment to share 100 million doses with needier nations by mid-2022.

Johnson urged the club of economic powers to push to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022, saying that “our first priority as the G-20 must be to press ahead with the rapid, equitable and global distribution of vaccines.”

Britain and other wealthy nations have been accused of hoarding more vaccines than they need, while some countries, especially in Africa, have few or none. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a World Health Organization health envoy, has urged G-20 nations to speed things up and airlift unused doses to the developing world.

The British leader also is hoping to focus the G-20’s minds on climate commitments as he prepares to host a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, starting Sunday.


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