G-7 foreign ministers discuss ‘growing threats’, from Russia and China

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on before the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.

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Foreign ministers from the developed countries of the Group of Seven (G-7) are due to meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the most pressing geopolitical challenges facing the world, including Russia and China.

The UK is hosting 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 on Tuesday, including “relations with Russia, China and Iran, as well as the crisis in Myanmar, the violence in Ethiopia and the ongoing war in Syria”, the government said in a press release.

‘Ongoing malign Russian activity’, UK says, including troop build-up on border with Ukraine, jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and situation in Belarus , are on the agenda.

On Monday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. At a press conference, they reiterated their joint commitment to “maintain transatlantic unity in defense of our common values ​​and in response to direct threats,” Blinken said.

“Shared Challenges”

The talks come ahead of a broader G-7 summit in Cornwall in early June, which will be attended by G-7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, who will make his first scheduled trip abroad since taking office.

First row (LR); European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, (middle row left to right) German Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, back row (LR); Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian pose for a family photo on the stairs of Lancaster House in London ahead of bilateral talks during the ministers’ meeting of Foreign Affairs and Development of the G7 on May 4. 2021 in London, England.

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The G-7 is an alliance of the most industrialized countries in the world: the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The EU participates in all discussions as a guest.

After talks throughout the day on Tuesday, the foreign ministers will then hold a dinner-debate with the invited countries, Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa and Brunei as as the current president of ASEAN.

Diplomatic relations between the G-7 and Russia have remained strained since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, which led to Russia’s suspension from what was then the Group of Eight (G-8) and international sanctions imposed on Russia.

Since then, Russian interference in the 2016 US election, a 2018 nerve agent attack in the UK, a cyberattack on US government and corporate networks, and alleged interference in the US election 2020 led to new sanctions against the country. The Russian government has repeatedly denied all the allegations.

Meanwhile, relations between the West and China have remained deadlocked since the departure of former US President Donald Trump, but questions remain over the future of international trade.

International relations with Iran are also in the spotlight after the Biden administration said it was open to holding talks to possibly revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018.

“Growing Threats”

The UK currently holds the rotating G-7 presidency and Foreign Secretary Raab said the UK presidency “is an opportunity to bring together open and democratic societies and show unity at a time where it is essential to address common challenges and growing threats”. .”

Tuesday’s discussions will also focus on tensions and escalating conflicts in other parts of the world, including the coup in Myanmar. The UK said it would urge G-7 countries to take stronger action against the military junta, including expanding targeted sanctions against people linked to the junta; support for arms embargoes; and increased humanitarian assistance for the country’s most vulnerable.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (R) walk along Downing Street in London, UK, May 03, 2021.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The situation in Libya and the ongoing war in Syria are also on the agenda. On Tuesday afternoon, the group will discuss the situation in Ethiopia, as well as Somalia, the Sahel and the Western Balkans.

The London meetings come as developed countries slowly resume face-to-face diplomacy after a pandemic hiatus; 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 face-to-face diplomacy and, in addition to geopolitical issues, “will seek to establish a shared approach among the world’s leading democracies on equitable access to vaccines, to agree global goals on girls’ education, to tough targets on climate finance and new measures to prevent hunger and food insecurity.

The talks in London come ahead of a high-profile G-7 leaders’ summit in Cornwall from June 11-13, where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will bring together leaders from member nations, the EU and guest nations.

Covid-secure measures are in place for the London talks, including daily coronavirus testing. All national social distancing guidelines will be in effect, UK said.

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