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UPDATE 2-Biden to discuss pandemic, economy and China in Friday G7 meeting

Jeff Mason
·2 min read

(Adds quote, background on China)

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will holdhis first event with other leaders from the Group of Sevennations in a virtual meeting on Friday to discuss thecoronavirus pandemic, the world economy and dealing with China,the White House said on Sunday.

The meeting is the first by top leaders from the G7 group ofrich democracies since April, it said.

"This virtual engagement with leaders of the world’s leadingdemocratic market economies will provide an opportunity forPresident Biden to discuss plans to defeat theCOVID-19 pandemic, and rebuild the global economy," the WhiteHouse said in a statement.

The White House said Biden would focus his remarks on aglobal response to COVID-19 vaccine production and distributionas well as "continued efforts to mobilize and cooperate againstthe threat of emerging infectious diseases by building countrycapacity and establishing health security financing."

Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican formerPresident Donald Trump on Jan. 20, has sought to project amessage of re-engagement with the world and with globalinstitutions after four years of his predecessor's "AmericaFirst" mantra.

Trump withdrew the United States from the World HealthOrganization and the Paris climate accord and largely scoffed atmultilateral organizations and groups.

Biden brought the United States back into the WHO andrejoined the Paris accord and has signaled a desire to work withallies in confronting China on a host of thorny issues.

"President Biden will also discuss the need to makeinvestments to strengthen our collective competitiveness and theimportance of updating global rules to tackle economicchallenges such as those posed by China," the White House said.

Trump challenged China over its trade policies by imposingpunishing tariffs, an instrument he also used on traditionalallies, drawing criticism for not taking a more unified approachwith U.S. friends to stand up to Beijing on issues such asintellectual property theft and other economic practices.

Domestically, Biden is pressing Congress to pass a $1.9trillion stimulus package to boost the U.S. economy and providerelief for those suffering from the pandemic.

The White House said he would discuss his economic agendawith G7 counterparts and encourage them and all industrializedcountries to maintain "economic support for the recovery" andother collective measures.

Climate change would also be on the agenda.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke to her G7counterparts last week and called for continued fiscal supportto secure the economic recovery.(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Daniel Wallis and PeterCooney)