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G7 Day Two Agenda, Global Economy, Foreign Policy, Pandemic; Biden Heads to Geneva Next Week for Putin Meeting; Brazil Reports over 85,000 Cases for Third Straight Day. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired June 12, 2021 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Day two of the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, gets underway in just a few hours. On the agenda, the global economy, foreign policy and, of course, the pandemic. COVID-19 prevented these leaders from meeting in person for almost two years.

For U.S. President Joe Biden, the forum his first chance to speak face to face with other democratic leaders. Many of them seem to appreciate his presence. CNN's Phil Mattingly has the details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Here we go, everybody.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the world's most powerful democracies, a show of unity on the world stage.

JOHNSON: It is genuinely wonderful to see everybody in person.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Smiles and warmth at the start of the G7 summit, a notable departure from the prior four years, driven by one clear difference -- the U.S. president. President Biden for decades a key figure in U.S. foreign policy now leading it himself.

JOHNSON: He's a breath of fresh air. A lot of things they want to do together.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I am of course happy the American president is present here. Being able to meet Joe Biden is obviously important because he stands for the commitment to multilateralism which we were missing in recent years.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): With a clearly stated goal to leverage the strength of the seven largest economies to face down challenges around the globe and reinvigorate alliances that faced severe tests. From the real time challenge of the pandemic, where Biden's pledge to donate 500 million vaccine doses to low and middle income countries turned today to a pledge of 1 billion doses from the entire G7... JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): -- to laying out the economic road map for a post-pandemic world, a driving force for Biden's sweeping domestic agenda.

BIDEN: Not just to build back but build back better.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): That all-too familiar phrase echoing across the Atlantic.

JOHNSON: We need to make sure, as we recover, we level up across our societies and we build back better.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A sign of unity that underscores the embrace of the new U.S. leader, something Biden's top advisors view as a crucial element just days before a critical sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two now not scheduled to hold a joint conference, officials say, but Biden advisers have been clear, they expect the president to deliver his own clear and firm message.

As to what will that be exactly?

BIDEN: I'll tell you after I deliver it.

MATTINGLY: And obviously despite more meetings with international leaders at least from the West, all eyes are most certainly going to be on Geneva in a couple of days, when President Biden does meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

It's important to know everything's not happening in isolation. The G7 meeting, the U.S.-E.U. meeting, the NATO summit, all of these are very, very consciously planned in advance of that meeting for President Biden to really, at least in the words of his advisers, show the strength of the Western democracies as he heads into that meeting with President Putin.

Now when his officials are clear at this point, they don't expect any major deliverables or outcomes from that meeting with President Putin. You've seen both leaders kind of ramp up the stakes rhetorically over the course of the last several days.

But what White House officials do want, they say it repeatedly, they want some level of stability, some level of predictability.

Essentially, while they're certainly going to raise issues that President Putin won't like and probably vice versa as well, what they most want to come out of the meeting with is some level of understanding about where the relationship is and where it can go from here and potentially where they can actually work together on areas of mutual interest.

Whether that happens, well, that obviously is an open question -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, Falmouth, England. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now as Phil just mentioned, Mr. Biden's summit with Vladimir Putin will come at the tail end of his weeklong trip and after he attends the NATO summit in Brussels. Neither Russia nor the U.S. expecting any momentous developments from the summit but, as the Russian leader admits, relations between Washington and Moscow are badly strained.

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VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.

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HOLMES: It is still not clear if the two leaders will hold a joint news conference after they meet. CNN's Matthew Chance asked the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov about that in an exclusive interview.

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DMITRY PESKOV, PUTIN SPOKESPERSON: Since the very beginning we have noticed that President Putin will be open for any alternative. He can and he will be ready to -- for a joint press conference. And he will be ready for his own press conference with the -- with the Kremlin pool and those willing journalists who are (INAUDIBLE).

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If there isn't a joint press conference, as U.S. officials are telling us there won't be, how disappointing will that be from the Kremlin's point of view?

Because they're one of the main reasons Vladimir Putin wanted to go and meet President Biden, is so he could appear on the same platform, show that he is a global statesman.

That wouldn't be an opportunity that is going to be offered to him, without the joint press conference, would it?

PESKOV: No, this is not --

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PESKOV: -- this is not the case at all. And this is not the purpose of President Putin coming to Geneva. There is no sense for him in proving that is a world statesman (INAUDIBLE). The main reason for (INAUDIBLE) the state of relationship between our two countries (ph) at a critical level, the relationship it demands -- it demands a summit between our two countries because this is the only way to -- this is the only way to arrange any revelations (ph) on the situation, our relationship, to prevent further degradation (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Now this year's G7 has also been a royal affair. The Duchess of Cambridge touring a school with U.S. First lady Jill Biden and three generations of senior royals, including the queen, attending a reception with world leaders.

It all comes as the queen is set to celebrate her official birthday in the hours ahead. CNN's Max Foster has more.

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MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The queen is not a political leader, so she's less divisive. Add to that her record as the world's longest serving head of state and she earns her position in the center of the family photo.

The royals were out in force in Cornwall on Friday, starting with a joint visit to a school by the Duchess of Cambridge; the first lady herself an educator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

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DR. JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I agree (ph).

FOSTER (voice-over): The children keen to show off their pets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we have Brian (ph) and -- absolutely.

FOSTER (voice-over): And the duchess keen to speak to her pet cause, her children's well-being during a discussion with British and American learning experts.

DR. BIDEN: Early childhood education is so important.

CATHERINE, DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE: Best investment for our future, health and happiness lies in the first years of life.

FOSTER (voice-over): Jill Biden already has royal connections. She's worked with Prince Harry for years on veterans' issues. The duchess was asked about Harry and Meghan's new baby, Lilibet.

CATHERINE: Oh, I wish her all the very best. I cannot wait to meet her because we have not yet met her. So hopefully that will be soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)?

CATHERINE: No, haven't met.

FOSTER (voice-over): Meanwhile, the first lady was asked if she asked the duchess for any advice on meeting the queen.

DR. BIDEN: No, I didn't. We've been busy.

Were you not in that room?

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DR. BIDEN: We were talking education.

FOSTER (voice-over): In the evening, at a reception for G7 leaders, the duchess joined her husband. This is Britain deploying its soft power, government-speak for a diplomatic charm offensive. They joined the queen there. She rarely travels this far from Windsor for engagements these days.

But she dutifully travels when requested by ministers. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, alongside the queen, as they are for all the big events these days, all part of the long-term royal transition process.

But Charles held his own spin-off meeting about private sector efforts to tackle climate change, this ahead of the U.N. climate change conference, which will also be held in the U.K. later this year.

After so much focus on tensions within the royal family, this was an opportunity for the royals remaining in the U.K. to show a united front and reassert themselves on the world stage -- Max Foster, CNN.

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HOLMES: Tokyo's Olympic committee trying to calm some of the coronavirus fears ahead of the games. The group's president says, starting next week, they'll be offering vaccines to some 18,000 people. The shots earmarked for employees, contractors and volunteers who are expected to interact regularly with the athletes.

Still, an Olympics coronavirus expert on Friday acknowledged that shutting out the virus entirely would be impossible.

Now Brazil, of course, struggling to contain the pandemic as it prepares to host the Copa America, South America's largest football tournament.

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HOLMES: For the third straight day, its health ministry is reporting more than 85,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 new deaths. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon has the details.

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STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the pitch, players run drills prepping for the upcoming Copa America match openers, insulated from the political noise surrounding them while off the pitch, Brazil gears up its last-minute host amidst turmoil over the decision to bring the 10-nation football club to a country with the second highest reported coronavirus death toll in the world.

Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, is defending his decision to take on the tournament after the regional host was stripped of hosting rights due to the ongoing unrest in Colombia and a surge in coronavirus cases in Argentina. JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Since the

beginning of the pandemic, I have been saying I am sorry for the deaths but we have to live.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Bolsonaro's sentiment, at least where hosting the Copa America is concerned, is not shared by a majority of Brazilians. An XP/IPESE poll revealing roughly two-thirds of Brazilians, 64 percent, are against their country hosting the cup with only 29 percent in favor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I believe it was a mistake to bring the Copa America because the president is completely down to COVID and I believe it would've better if we focused on public health rather than sport right now.

POZZEBON (voice-over): The last-minute decision by the South American Football Confederation, Conmebol, to move the tournament to Brazil, where close to 500,000 people have died from COVID-19, is striking such a nerve that opponents took the measures to the Brazilian supreme court earlier this week, hoping to bring it to a halt, a move that, ultimately, failed, paving the way for the matches to get underway in earnest on Sunday.

With Brazilian officials downplaying fears from health experts, the same influx of thousands of fans and players from surrounding countries will exacerbate the already high toll of COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): With proper sanitary control, I don't see any additional risk due to this tournament.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Total a player boycott which had been growing louder in recent weeks has for the most part fallen silent.

For now, it appears fans across the globe will get see whether football legend Lionel Messi can help bring the Argentine national team out of a 28-year international trophy drought or if another team by the reigning South American champions, Brazil, led by fan favorite Neymar, can claim the title in a nation where the COVID-19 pandemic rages on -- Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.

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HOLMES: After a year's delay because of the pandemic, the Euro 2020 football tournament has finally kicked off. Italy defeating Turkey 3-0 in the opening match on Friday, playing pretty well, apparently.

This was in front of a crowd of about 16,000 fans in Rome's Stadio Olympico. The tournament is spread out across the whole continent; 24 teams will play in 11 cities over the next month. The final set for Wembley stadium in London, July 11th.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" up next.