LONDON – The foreign ministers of a group of seven wealthy industrial countries are gathering in London on Tuesday – their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years – to grapple with threats to health, prosperity and democracy.
Host country Britain has warned that the increasingly aggressive activities of Russia, China and Iran are a challenge to democratic societies and international rule of law.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb said that this year’s G-7 chairmanship of Britain “is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is much needed to deal with shared challenges and growing threats” is.”
Top diplomats from Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan are in two days of talks with an agenda, including the coup in Myanmar, the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia and the precarious situation in Afghanistan, where US forces are involved And their NATO allies are ending two decades of deployment.
The UK Foreign Office said the group would also discuss Russia’s ongoing malicious activity, including Moscow’s troop buildup along the border with Ukraine, and the imprisonment of opposition politician Alexey Navalny.
The G-7 minister will try to agree in a way to provide coronovirus vaccines worldwide. Wealthy countries have been reluctant to give up precious shares until they have neutralized their populations.
Organizers have taken steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a London meeting, including installing plastic screens among participants and making coronavirus viruses available on site.
The British government invited foreign ministers from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to attend parts of the meeting, which included a Tuesday dinner at the Grand Lancaster House in central London. The guest list was intended to underline the G-7’s support for democracy, as well as an attempt by the UK government to build stronger ties with Asia in the wake of the country’s departure from the European Union.
The government hopes that the IN-G G-7 meetings will be resumed – after more than a year of disruption by the coronovirus epidemic – giving the group a jolt of energy and Brester’s post-Brexit “Global Britain” UK attempted for the role
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to host other G-7 leaders at a summit in Cornwall, England in June.
Opposition politicians and international aid organizations say the UK’s goal of playing a bigger role in the world’s affairs is to reduce its foreign aid budget from 0.7% of the GDP to 0.5% of the government as it is financially affected by the epidemic. The decision is underestimated.
Raab said on Monday that the aid cuts were a “difficult decision”, but insisted that Britain would become “a great force for good in the world”.
Rab met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, which is due to hold talks with Johnson on Tuesday.
Both the US and Britain rejected reports coming from Iran that they are in a prisoner exchange deal with Tehran, which could see the imminent release of British-Iranian woman Nazneen Zagari-Ratcliffe and four Americans.
Blinken said “the report emanating from Tehran is not accurate.”
Jill Lawless, The Associated Press