Sunak says Biden wanted to talk to parachutist, not wandering away, at G7 event

Rishi Sunak has said a video that prompted speculation Joe Biden had wandered away from G7 leaders during an event actually showed the US president “being very polite” and going to talk to a parachutist.

After a group of parachutists put on a display for the leaders with a flag from each of the seven countries – the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan – Mr Biden walked away from the group.

Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni can be seen steering him back to pose for photos.

US president Joe Biden and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni (Christopher Furlong/PA)
US president Joe Biden and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni (Christopher Furlong/PA)

The group of leaders was supposed to line up so the pilots could shake their hands, Mr Sunak said.

“They had all landed and he was being very polite. And he just went over to kind of talk to all of them individually,” Mr Sunak told reporters at the G7 summit.

“As far as I know, he went over to talk to some of the parachute jumpers and say thank you or hello to them individually,” he said.

He added: “They all came to shake all our hands individually. So we were meant to stand in one place rather than go and say hello, because everyone wanted to try and talk to the person who jumped with their flag.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meeting with Narendra Modi during the G7 leaders’ summit (Christopher Furlong/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meeting with Narendra Modi during the G7 leaders’ summit (Christopher Furlong/PA)

Mr Sunak held a bilateral meeting with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi on the second day of the summit on Friday, after having bilaterals with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

During Friday’s sessions, he will tell world leaders they must unlock funding for sustainable development and harness the benefits of AI.

He will announce funding which could top £100 million to help deliver clean energy transitions, with a £20 million expansion of an artificial intelligence (AI) development scheme into Asia.

The funding will be spread over several years as part of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme.

It includes £57 million to accelerate the roll-out of improved, climate resilient infrastructure in developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia through the Climate Compatible Growth Programme.

At a session focused on artificial intelligence and energy, Africa and the Mediterranean, he will urge reform to the international financial system to unlock funding required to accelerate sustainable development goals and strengthen the voices of the most vulnerable.

He said: “The UK is committed to driving a more effective international system that improves lives for people across the globe and at home.

“The green transition and the development of AI are key components of this, and the funding announced today will help ensure that these seismic changes happen in a way that works for all.”

A partnership between the UK and Canada – with support from the US, Australia and other partners, is aimed at ensuring artificial intelligence technology is accessible across the globe and delivering AI labs to train the next generation.

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