London: The first in-person meeting of world leaders since the coronavirus pandemic has been disrupted by a heavy fog which has blanketed the summit site and prevented some world leaders from landing.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was one of several key leaders to have their travel delayed because the airport had been temporarily deemed too dangerous.
He was forced to land at Brize Norton, west of Oxford – a five-hour drive from the G7 event in the seaside town of Carbis Bay, south west England.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plane had to land near Oxford, a four-hour drive from the Cornwall resort hosting the summit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson selected the Cornwall site to showcase the region’s natural beauty and warm temperatures over summer but a thick fog rolled across the region on Thursday afternoon local-time.
US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made it into Cornwall before the fog set in at Newquay airport, which was to be used for all arrivals.
The situation threatened to delay the arrivals of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korea’s Moon Jae-In and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi but the fog lifted by mid-morning, and they were able to land as planned.
The first face-to-face gathering of world leaders since the coronavirus pandemic began last year, the G7 summit is slated to run over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Leaders will discuss the pandemic, vaccine equity, plans for a global taxation shakeup and the rise of China.
“While there are many challenges back at home, this is a very important place for Australia to be today, as we touch down here in the United Kingdom,” Morrison said after landing.
“There’s never been a more important time for Australia to be sitting around the table.”
The thick fog settling in the harbour at Falmouth, Cornwall, where the G7 media centre is located. Credit:AP
Morrison will have opportunities to speak to the G7 throughout the weekend but his biggest contribution is expected on Sunday in a session on open societies and the recovery from the pandemic.
He will continue the themes set out in a speech in Perth on Wednesday on the need for liberal democracies to work together against economic coercion by autocracies.
It is unclear whether the fog delays will affect plans by the Queen to travel to Carbis Bay to headline a diplomatic offensive with the G7 leaders.
As a guest of the G7, Morrison was not scheduled to attend the reception hosted by the 95-year-old monarch, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
However he is likely to see the Queen for a one-on-one at Windsor Castle early next week following the G7 summit and before his departure for meetings in Paris.
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