By MATTHEW LEE AP diplomatic writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Two months ago, the leaders of the world’s seven major industrialized democracies met in the height of summer on England’s south-east coast. It was a happy occasion: the first in-person Group of Seven summit in two years due to the coronavirus pandemic and the welcome appearance of President Joe Biden and his “America is back” message on topics ranging from courtesy to COVID-19 to climate change.
On Tuesday, those same seven leaders will meet again in a virtual format as they face a resurgence of the pandemic, more dire news about climate change and, more immediately and perhaps more importantly, Afghanistan. The country’s burgeoning refugee crisis, the collapse of its government, and fears of a resurgence of Afghanistan-based terrorism have left the G-7 allies to scramble and threaten the unity of the bloc.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the Cornwall summit, summons leaders again for crisis talks on Afghanistan amid widespread discontent over Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Complaints have come from Britain, France, Germany and other countries in the G-7, which includes only one non-NATO member, Japan.
Despite Biden’s announcement in April that the United States would withdraw completely from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Central Asian nation was almost an afterthought when the G-7 met in June in the English seaside resort of Cornwall.