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Johnson discussed boosting trade links with world leaders at G7 summit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held a series of meetings with counterparts at the gathering in Biarritz.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a working session on Foreign Policy and Security Affairs: Syria, as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a working session on Foreign Policy and Security Affairs: Syria, as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

By David Hughes, PA Political Editor, in Biarritz

Boris Johnson discussed boosting trade links with the leaders of Japan, Australia and Egypt on the final day of his first international summit.

The Prime Minister also talked about the crisis in Hong Kong in his meeting with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

The series of meetings came on the final day of the G7 summit, the Prime Minister’s debut on the world stage.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France (Neil Hall/PA)

During their meeting in Biarritz, Mr Johnson and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe committed to pursuing an “ambitious free trade agreement” after Brexit, building on the existing deal with the EU.

In his meeting with Mr Morrison “the leaders discussed their enthusiasm for an enhanced and deep trading relationship once the UK leaves the EU”, Number 10 said.

A Downing Street spokeswoman added: “The two leaders were concerned about the current situation in Hong Kong, and agreed that it was paramount for all sides to remain calm and peaceful and to maintain Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as guaranteed by the legally binding joint declaration.”

There were more violent clashes during anti-government protests in Hong Kong over the weekend.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Dylan Martinez/PA)

Mr Johnson’s meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi focused on their “shared desire to strengthen economic, trade and security cooperation”, Number 10 said.

The Prime Minister was also meeting outgoing Italian premier Giuseppe Conte on Monday.

In the main business on the agenda, the leaders of the G7 nations considered measures on protecting the environment, although Donald Trump’s chair was conspicuously empty at the start of the session.

The US president is a climate change sceptic who once had claimed it is a hoax that was invented by the Chinese.

Mr Johnson used the session to highlight a pledge of £10 million to help prevent the destruction of the Amazon.

As the G7 summit drew to a close, former prime minister Gordon Brown said the club made up of some of the world’s richest democracies was “impotent” because of its divisions.

Ahead of the summit, host Emmanuel Macron said there would not be a final communique, an agreed statement backed by all the leaders.

The 2018 G7 summit ended in farce as Mr Trump withdrew his support for the text and Mr Macron was keen to avoid a repeat performance.

Mr Brown told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “When you have got an organisation that cannot agree on a communique, that has got no agreed agenda, that’s got no agreement even on membership, and has broken down, as far as I can see, over the weekend into small huddles of individuals doing bilateral discussions – you’ve really got a leaderless world.

“It is rightly called by some the G Zero because the world seems to be more divided than I can remember.”

PA

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