German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) and US President Joe Biden (R) are pictured during the G7 Summit at Elmau Castle in Kruen, Germany, on Sunday. Photo by Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE
June 26 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Sunday announced the United States will contribute $200 billion to a global infrastructure initiative during a summit with the leaders of the Group of Seven.
The United States committed to provide $200 billion to the program throughout the next five years in combination with contributions from other G7 members for an overall target of $600 billion.
"Developing countries often lack the essential infrastructure to help navigate global shocks like a pandemic, so they feel the impacts more acutely and they have a harder timer recovering in our deeply connected world," Biden said in remarks at the summit. "That's not just a humanitarian concern. It's an economic and a security concern for all of us."
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the goal of the program was to present a "positive investment impulse to the world to show our partners in the developing world that they have a choice."
The effort comes as China has spent nearly a decade investing in infrastructure in Africa and Asia, including financing for projects such as seaports and 5G wireless networks through its Belt and Road Initiative.
Biden did not explicitly mention China during his remarks but said that when "democracies do all that we can offer" they can triumph over autocracies and offer "better options for people around the world."
"This isn't a charity. It's an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people, the people of all our nations. It will boost all of our economies and give a chance for us to share our positive vision for the future," said Biden.
Biden earlier met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as they "underlined their commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity" as well as continued efforts to provide Ukraine with support to defend against Russia's invasion, according to a White House readout of the meeting.
"The leaders also discussed efforts to alleviate the impacts of Russia's war in Ukraine on global food and energy security," according to the readout.
"The president welcomed Germany's historic commitment to significantly boost defense spending and meet its NATO commitments, which will strengthen the Alliance's long-term deterrence and defense posture."
In brief remarks before the meeting, Biden and Scholz said that the nations will "continue working on the economic challenges" each faces while standing together against Russia's aggression in Europe.
Biden and his G7 counterparts are expected to discuss issues with the global economy such as energy security and the food crisis during the summit's first session Sunday, a senior administration official said on a press call.
Biden and other G7 leaders will "continue to work to hold Putin accountable," the senior administration official said, while the United States, Britain, Canada and Japan announced they have banned the import of Russian gold, which is Moscow's largest non-energy export at about $15.47 billion last year.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the move in a statement, saying it will directly affect Russian oligarchs and "strike at the heart of Putin's war machine."
"Putin is squandering his dwindling resources on this pointless and barbaric war," Johnson said. "He is bankrolling his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian people.
"We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department is expected to make the formal determination to prohibit the import of new gold into the United States on Tuesday.
The senior U.S. administration official said that the G7 is expected to take a "series of steps" on top of the gold ban that are "designed to increase pressure" on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We think that the step forward that's being taken with gold is a very important illustration of the additional steps that we expect to be taken now and in the weeks ahead," the senior administration official said on the call.
"This is a key export, a key source of revenue, a key alternative for Russia, in terms of their ability to transact in the global financial system."
When asked to discuss whether Russia will be able to evade the measure, the senior administration official said that an "ongoing area of focus" for the G7 has been to identify and block areas "where evasion risk is becoming more prominent."