Britain this week hosts the first face-to-face meeting of G7 foreign ministers in two years, joined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as world powers grapple with pandemic recovery and tensions growing with Russia and China.
Covid’s secure rally in London will set the stage for a G7 summit in southwest England next month, which will mark Joe Biden’s inaugural visit to Europe as President of the United States. The two events will also be joined by Indian leaders.
Many G7 countries have rallied to aid from India as the world’s most populous democracy faces a terrifying spike in coronavirus cases, though the pandemic is declining elsewhere in the West thanks to vaccination campaigns massive.
After its Brexit withdrawal from the European Union, Britain is reorienting its foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region, and British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab will also host ministers from Australia, South Korea and of the ASEAN block.
In the face of Russian “lies and propaganda” on Ukraine and other fronts, Raab said he wanted the G7 to “join forces with a rapid rebuttal mechanism” against disinformation.
Blinken is on his way to Ukraine this week, promising “unwavering” US support after Russian troops gathered at its border.
In bilateral talks Monday before G7 ministers sit down for a working dinner, Raab and Blinken will discuss Afghanistan, China, Iran and trade, according to Britain’s Foreign Ministry.
Like Russia, China is also accused by Western intelligence services of unleashing social media trolls and using the foreign language weapons of its state media to channel an aggressive line on issues. such as the plight of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
On China, the United States expects the G7 “to discuss how we can work closely with our allies and partners to address our collective challenges from a position of strength,” Erica Barks told reporters. Ruggles, senior State Department official.
– Anger at cuts in aid –
More generally, said Raab, “we will take action to ensure equitable access to vaccines around the world, setting global goals for girls’ education, agreeing to ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine ”.
However, Britain faces an outcry from activists after cutting its aid budget, UN agencies including Children’s Arm, UNICEF, warning of a devastating impact for millions of people around the world.
But like other G7 members, Britain says it faces budget pressures from huge spending to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, even as the group pledges funding for a equitable access to vaccines for the poorest countries.
The G7 brings together Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the EU. In addition to guests from Asia-Pacific, South Africa will participate in the June summit this week.
The last face-to-face meeting of foreign ministers from the world’s major economic powers was held in the seaside resort of Dinard, in northwestern France, in April 2019.
When G7 ministers reconvene for formal talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, they will have an on-site testing facility and plexiglass screens to separate them into meetings, and Britain has placed limits on the size of each delegation.
“The meetings will be a demonstration of how to conduct diplomatic affairs safely and successfully as we recover from the pandemic,” the foreign ministry said.
Britain is also preparing to host the next UN climate change summit, COP 26, in Glasgow in November.
“The pandemic and the climate crisis are the final reminders that we are linked as part of a global community,” Barks-Ruggles said, after Biden re-established the United States in global climate negotiations over replacing former President Donald Trump.
“Our history of values shared with our G7 partners will provide a solid foundation as we strive to meet these global challenges,” added the US official.
© 2021 AFP