G7 foreign ministers meet in person after pandemic break

LONDON (AP) – Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven rich industrialized countries meet in London on Tuesday – their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years – to tackle threats to health, prosperity and democracy .

Britain, the host country, has warned that the increasingly aggressive activities of Russia, China and Iran pose a challenge to democratic societies and the rule of international law.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK Presidency of the G-7 this year “is an opportunity to bring together open and democratic societies and to show unity at a time when it is essential to meet challenges. common challenges and growing threats.

Senior diplomats from the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan hold two days of talks with a program that includes the Myanmar coup, the Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis and the precarious situation in Afghanistan, where US troops and their NATO allies end a two-decade deployment.

The British Foreign Office said the group will also discuss “Russia’s ongoing malignant activity,” including the build-up of troops from Moscow on the border with Ukraine and the imprisonment of the politician from there. opposition Alexei Navalny.

G-7 ministers will also try to agree on a way to make coronavirus vaccines available worldwide. Rich countries have been reluctant to give up valuable stocks until they have vaccinated their own populations.

Organizers took steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the London meeting, including installing plastic screens between attendees and making coronavirus tests available on-site.

The British government has invited the foreign ministers of Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to join parts of the meeting, including a dinner on Tuesday at the Grand Lancaster House in central London. The guest list was intended to highlight the G-7’s support for democracies, as well as the UK government’s attempts to strengthen ties with Asia following the country’s departure from the European Union.

The government is hoping that the resumption of face-to-face meetings of the G-7 – after more than a year of disruption by the coronavirus pandemic – will give the group a boost of energy and strengthen attempts to forge a role of “Britain. world »post-Brexit for the United Kingdom

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to welcome other G-7 leaders to a summit in Cornwall, England, in June.

Opposition politicians and international aid organizations say Britain’s goal of playing a greater role in world affairs is undermined by the government’s decision to cut its foreign aid budget by 0 , 7% of gross domestic product to 0.5% due to the economic blow of the pandemic.

Raab said on Monday that aid cuts were a “difficult decision”, but insisted Britain would become “an even greater force for good in the world”.

Raab met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, who is due to meet with Johnson on Tuesday.

The United States and Britain have both rejected reports from Iran that they are negotiating a prisoner exchange deal with Tehran that could result in the imminent release of Anglo-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and of four Americans.

Blinken said “reports from Tehran are not accurate”.

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