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Australia

Sparks to fly in French glamour spot

Australia has an exclusive invite to the G7 summit in France this weekend, where all eyes will be on US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they meet for the first time as leaders.

Mr Trump and Mr Johnson have spoken on the phone several times since Mr Johnson became prime minister in July, but tomorrow’s gathering in Biarritz will be the first test of their chemistry.

“He and I are very much aligned. We feel very good about each other,” Mr Trump told reporters in New Jersey earlier this week.

Here’s what else you need to know about the summit.

WHAT IS THE G7 SUMMIT?

The G7 summit is the annual meeting of the Group of Seven — a powerful group of democratic countries that includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Russia used to be a member, when it was referred to as the G8, but was kicked out in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea.

Ever year, leaders of the seven nations come together to discuss the major issues affecting the world and draw up plans for how to tackle them.

Last year the summit was hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Quebec, while this year French President Emmanuel Macron is chair.

WHY IS AUSTRALIA INVITED?

Australia isn’t part of the G7, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been invited to attend the summit as a special observer. The leaders of Chile, India, South Africa and a number of African countries have also been invited to participate in this year’s discussions.

The invite is part of Mr Macron’s plans to shake up the G7, having told the UN last year “the time when a club of rich countries could alone define the world’s balances is long gone”.

Mr Morrison said he was looking forward to meeting with Mr Johnson, who he’s been working with to secure a free trade deal following Brexit.

He will also be keen to discuss the situation in the Persian Gulf, where Australia has agreed to join the US military effort amid rising tensions between America and Iran.

“Australia's participation is an opportunity to share our Indo-Pacific perspective with the world's leading democracies,” Mr Morrison said on Wednesday. He also plans to mix a bit of cricket banter with his serious discussions.

“I suspect I will give Boris a hard time over the cricket and he would try to do the same with me, too. That is the nature of the relationship,” he said.

“And I suspect the prime minister of India would take a shot at both of us on that front.”

WHAT ABOUT TRUMP AND JOHNSON?

The summit will be the first big test for Mr Johnson, who is under immense pressure as Britain prepares to leave the European Union (EU) on October 31.

He’ll have to mingle with the leaders of France, Germany and Italy amid their bitter Brexit negotiations, and hustle along his plans for a free trade deal with the US.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, will likely be treated with extra caution after last year leaving the summit early, withdrawing support for the final communique, and firing off insults at Mr Trudeau.

When the two leaders meet, body language expert Dr Harry Witchel from Brighton and Sussex Medical School said to watch the handshake closely.

“Donald Trump made a real name for himself two years ago by deliberately using handshakes to manipulate and push around world leaders,” he said.

“What he does is he grabs hold of somebody's hand and literally pulls them, yanks them as fast as possible towards his body so the person is in some way controlled or even moved off balance. The purpose is … to demonstrate unequivocal physical domination of someone else.”

Dr Witchel said it would also be easy to tell whether Mr Johnson was anxious or excited.

“He'll often do things like blocking, so he'll put an arm in front of himself to protect himself from stress. And if he's enthusiastic or excited he's like a small boy, so he'll wriggle parts of his body or lean forward with enthusiasm,” he said.

WHAT ARE THE BIG ISSUES ON THE AGENDA?

Mr Macron wants climate change to be top of the agenda at this year’s summit, which could prove awkward for Mr Morrison and Mr Trump.

Australia was criticised for its stalled efforts to combat global warming at the recent Pacific Island Forum, where the Prime Minister of Tonga was reduced to tears. President Trump famously pulled out of the COP 21 agreement negotiated in Paris in 2015.

The leaders will also discuss issues to do with gender equality and artificial intelligence.

WHERE IS BIARRITZ?

Biarritz is a glamorous seaside resort in France’s southwest, known for its gleaming surf beaches.

It’s normally packed with tourists and surfers at this time of year, but will be cleared out during the summit to make way for its high-profile guests.

The entire central area will be shut down and visitors will be banned from accessing the town's luxury Hotel du Palais and the famous Grande Plage beach that it overlooks. Trains will stop running and the airport will also be closed to scheduled flights.

WILL THERE BE EXTRA SECURITY?

Mr Macron is taking no chances after months of anti-government “yellow vest” protests in France, so around 10,000 security forces will be deployed across the area.

According to the AFP, a “counter summit” of thousands of people has been organised by activists to protest the polices of the world powers.

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