The UK is hosting the G-7 Foreign and Development Ministers in the first face-to-face meetings since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the group’s first gathering of foreign ministers since 2019.
Geopolitical issues which the UK says “threaten to undermine democracy, freedoms and human rights” will be on the agenda Tuesday, including “relations with Russia, China and the United Kingdom. Iran, as well as the crisis in Myanmar, the violence in Ethiopia and the ongoing war in Syria, ”the government said in a statement.
“Russia’s continued malignant activity,” said the UK, including the build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine, the imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the situation in Belarus , are among the priorities.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday. At a press conference, they reiterated their shared commitment to “maintain transatlantic unity in defense of our common values and in response to direct threats,” Blinken said.
The G-7 is an alliance of the most industrialized countries of the world: the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The EU participates in all discussions as a guest.
After Tuesday’s talks, foreign ministers will hold a dinner debate with invited countries Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa and Brunei as current president from ASEAN.
Diplomatic relations between the G-7 and Russia remain strained since its annexation of Crimea to Ukraine in 2014, which led to Russia suspending what was then the Group of Eight (G-8) and the imposition of international sanctions on Russia.
Since then, Russian interference in the 2016 US election, a 2018 nerve agent attack in the UK, a cyberattack on the US government and corporate networks, and alleged interference in the 2020 election resulted in further sanctions against the country. The Russian government has repeatedly denied all allegations.
Meanwhile, relations between the West and China have remained at an impasse since the departure of former US President Donald Trump, but questions remain about the future of international trade.
International relations with Iran are also in the spotlight after the Biden administration said it was willing to hold talks to potentially revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018.
Tuesday’s talks will also focus on tensions and escalating conflicts in other parts of the world, including the coup in Myanmar. The UK has said it will urge the G-7 countries to take stronger action against the military junta, including expanding targeted sanctions against those linked to the junta; support for arms embargoes; and increased humanitarian aid for the country’s most vulnerable.
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The London meetings take place as developed countries slowly resume face-to-face diplomacy after a hiatus due to the pandemic; the last meeting of G-7 foreign ministers took place in April 2019 in Dinard and Saint-Malo in France.
The UK said Tuesday’s meeting was a crucial opportunity to revitalize in-person diplomacy and, in addition to geopolitical issues, “will seek to establish a common approach among the world’s leading democracies on equitable access to vaccines, to Agree on rigorous global girls’ education goals. targets on climate finance and new measures to prevent famine and food insecurity. “
The talks in London precede a high-level summit of G-7 leaders in Cornwall on June 11-13, where UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will bring together leaders of member countries, the EU and guest countries.
Covid-secured measures are in place for the London talks, including daily coronavirus testing. All national social distancing guidelines will be in effect, the UK said.