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G20 leaders to focus on climate, COVID and Iran's nuclear ambitions at Rome summit

Biden meets with world leaders at G20 summit
Biden meets with world leaders at G20 summit 04:13

President Joe Biden is mending fences and building new relationships on the world stage in Italy as he takes part in the annual G20 summit of major economies in Rome. His message is that the U.S. is steadfastly committed to allies and to face-to-face diplomacy. 

World leaders will focus on ending the coronavirus pandemic with more vaccine sharing, curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions, tackling climate change, and fixing supply-chain issues driving up prices, CBS News' Weijia Jiang reports.

The two-day summit, which kicked off Saturday, is the first in-person meeting of G20 leaders since the pandemic began. Mr. Biden's years of foreign policy experience will be tested on the visit, while Democrats back in Washington grapple with two giant pieces of the president's domestic agenda: the sharply cut $1.75 trillion social spending plan and the trillion dollar infrastructure bill.

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President Joe Biden speaks Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the G20 leaders' summit in Rome on October 30, 2021 KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

On Friday, the president was working to repair his relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron, who called it a betrayal when the U.S. and U.K. struck a submarine deal with Australia in September, cancelling out an agreement with France worth tens of billions of dollars.

"What we did was clumsy," Mr. Biden said. "I was under the impression that France had been informed long before."

Earlier, Mr. Biden, a devout Catholic, also met with Pope Francis, including an unusually long private meeting that lasted for 75 minutes.

"You are the most significant warrior for peace I've ever met," Mr. Biden told Pope Francis. 

Back home in the U.S., some conservative bishops are calling for Mr. Biden to be denied communion because he supports abortion rights. The president said he and the pope did not talk about abortion, but that the pontiff said this: "We just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion."

They also spoke about the president's proposals to confront the climate crisis in his social spending bill, which Democrats have yet to agree on despite Mr. Biden's urgent pleas to pass the plan.

"This is about competitiveness versus complacency," Mr. Biden said. "It's about expanding opportunity, not opportunity denied. It's about leading the world, or letting the world pass us by."

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