G-20 Ministers in Italy to Discuss Coronavirus, Climate Change, Africa Development

The coronavirus pandemic, climate change and food security are on the agenda Tuesday as foreign ministers from the G-20 group of nations meet in Italy.  The talks in the city of Matera represent the first time the ministers are gathering in person since 2019.  “To bring the pandemic to an end, we must get more vaccine to more places,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in his opening remarks. “Multilateral cooperation will be key to stop this global health crisis.” Blinken also highlighted U.S. contributions to the COVAX dose-sharing facility to get supply of COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries and praised Italy for making the pandemic a focus of Tuesday’s meetings.  U.S. State Department officials said Blinken would stress the importance of working together to address such global challenges, a common theme in recent months as he and President Joe Biden set a foreign policy path heavily focused on boosting ties with allies.  “To address the climate crisis, Secretary Blinken will encourage G-20 members to work together toward ambitious outcomes, including a recognition of the need to keep a 1.5 degree Celsius of warming threshold within reach, the importance of actions this decade that are aligned with that goal, and taking other steps like committing to end public finance for overseas unabated coal,” Susannah Cooper, director of the Office of Monetary Affairs in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, told reporters ahead of the meetings.European Council President Charles Michel, left, waits for the start of a virtual G20 meeting, hosted by Saudi Arabia, at the European Council building in Brussels, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.Cooper said Blinken would advocate for “building a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery,” including an equitable global tax system with a minimum corporate tax rate.  Finance ministers from G-7 nations, all of which are part of the G-20, agreed in principle in early June to the creation of a global minimum tax on corporations that would force companies that shift profits to subsidiaries in low- or no-tax jurisdictions to pay as much as 15% in taxes on that income to the country where they are headquartered.     Tuesday’s meetings are also set to consider economic development issues in Africa, including gender equity and opportunities for young people, as well as humanitarian efforts and human rights.  Italy is the last stop on a European trip for Blinken that included a conference on Libya in Germany, meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  On Monday he was in Rome, where ministers from a global coalition to fight Islamic State terrorists said 8 million people have been freed from the militants’ control in Iraq and Syria, but that the threat from Islamic State fighters remains there and in Africa.    The ministers met face-to-face for the first time in two years, pledging to maintain watch against a resurgence of the insurgents.     The resumption in ISIS “activities and its ability to rebuild its networks and capabilities to target security forces and civilians in areas in Iraq and Syria where the coalition is not active, requires strong vigilance and coordinated action,” the diplomats said in a concluding communique.