BIARRITZ: (Left to right) Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk, US President Donald Trump, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend a working session on 'International Economy and Trade, and International Security Agenda' in Biarritz yesterday. _ AFP

accusations from political opponents of being out at sea over his Brexit
strategy, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson strode into the Atlantic Ocean
for a bracing dip yesterday before tackling trade talks with western allies at
a G7 summit. Johnson plunged into the waters off Biarritz flanked by French
soldiers and with Britain's ambassador to France, Ed Llewellyn, in tow, a
Johnson aide said.

Better known for
his fondness of cycling before entering 10 Downing Street, Johnson swam around
a rocky outcrop several hundred meters off a Biarritz beach. "Let me give
you a metaphor," Johnson told ITV. "I swam round that rock this
morning. From here you cannot tell there is a gigantic hole in that rock. There
is a way through." "My point to the EU is that there is a way
through, but you can't find the way through if you just sit on the beach."

With a deepening
political crisis at home, Johnson is making his international debut at a gathering
of G7 leaders in the French resort of Biarritz, less than three months before
the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union. Caught between European
and US thinking, Johnson was treading a delicate path, needing to avoid
angering a volatile Trump and risking trade ties while not alienating himself
from other leaders who have a more multilateral approach to world politics.

Police fire tear

Meanwhile, French
police used tear gas and water cannon to break up anti-G7 protesters in the
southern city of Bayonne, as leaders from the world's leading industrialized
nations arrived for their summit just a few kilometers away in Biarritz. Since
Monday, anti-capitalist activists, environmentalists and other
anti-globalization groups have been flocking to a counter-summit in
southwestern France that organizers insisted would be peaceful.

More than 9,000
anti-G7 protesters took part in the largest protest on Saturday - a mass march
over a bridge linking France and Spain that took place without incident.
However the atmosphere was more hostile in Bayonne, where hundreds of
protesters chanting anti-capitalist slogans did not seem to follow a route,
instead wandering the streets trying to find a way into the city centre.

However the
police, who were deployed en masse in the city, put up a barricade blocking
their path. The protesters tried to get through the barricade and police faced
them down for more than an hour, according to AFP journalists. The angry crowds
were eventually dispersed in the evening after the police used tear gas and
water cannon. While several people were detained, the local authorities have
yet to announce the number of arrests.

'Amazonia is

The larger,
peaceful march took place in the French coastal town of Hendaye, about 30
kilometers from Biarritz, with police giving a figure of 9,000 but organizers
saying as many as 15,000 people turned up. 
Biarritz is a popular tourist destination that would normally be basking
in its annual summer boom, but with US President Donald Trump and other world
leaders flying in for three days of talks, the resort was in lockdown.
"Heads of state: act now, Amazonia is burning!" read one banner as
the huge crowd rallied under cloudless blue skies in Hendaye, the slogan
referring to the wildfires ravaging the world's largest rainforest.

"If the
climate was a cathedral, we would already have saved it," read another,
referring to Notre-Dame in Paris, which was ravaged by a fire in April that
prompted donors to pledge 850 million euros ($954 million) to rebuild it.
Waving thousands of flags, they marched across the Bidassoa River heading for
the Spanish town of Irun, chanting slogans while some played drums. The
colorful crowd was an eclectic mix of environmental activists, families,
anti-globalists, a handful of anti-government "yellow vest"
protesters and Basque nationalists, AFP correspondents said.

"We are very
happy because it was a huge challenge," said Sebastian Bailleul of
Alternatives G7, one of the march's organizers. But authorities remain on high
alert, with Biarritz in lockdown. "I want to call for calm and for
unity," French President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to the nation
just before the opening of the summit, where world leaders were to address the
Amazon crisis along with other global issues.

13,000 police

Overnight, 17
people were arrested and four police lightly injured when skirmishes erupted
near in Urrugne, a village some 25 kilometers south of Biarritz. Friday night's
confrontation occurred as activists tried to block police from a site where
they had set up camp, with police firing tear gas and using controversial
rubber rounds known as LBDs to disperse them, AFP correspondents said.

France has
deployed more than 13,000 police and gendarmes to secure the event amid fears
of disturbances by radical anti-capitalist groups, anarchists or the yellow
vest protesters. But the demonstrators insisted their aims were peaceful.
"It's important to show that people are mobilized and do not accept the
type of world they're offering us," said Elise Dilet, a 47-year-old
activist with Bizi, a Basque anti-globalization group.

A raft of
unprecedented security measures has been put in place for the summit, with the
picturesque Grand Plage beach off-limits to everyone except delegates and those
accredited for the summit. Earlier this week, police arrested three German
activists carrying a tear gas canister, an icepick and wrenches along with
documents "linked to the extreme left", prosecutors said. They were
charged with planning violence, sentenced to several months prison and banned
from returning to France.

Another German
national was arrested early Wednesday and deported, since French authorities
had banned him over "violent actions" at a previous G20 meeting,
legal sources said. In anticipation of trouble, France has set up a special
magistrates' court, with 17 prosecutors and 70 lawyers on hand, as well as
holding cells with capacity for 300 people for anyone caught breaking the law.
- Agencies