Foreign ministers from the G7 wealthy industrialized nations yesterday gathered in London — 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 pose a challenge to democratic societies and the international rule of law.
UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab said Britain’s presidency of the G7 this year “is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is much needed to tackle shared challenges and rising threats.”
Top diplomats from the UK, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan are holding two days of talks with an agenda that includes the coup in Myanmar, the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia and the precarious situation in Afghanistan, where US troops and their NATO allies are winding down a two-decade deployment.
The UK Foreign Office said the group would also discuss “Russia’s ongoing malign activity,” including Moscow’s troop buildup on the border with Ukraine and the imprisonment of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
G7 ministers would also try to agree on a way to make COVID-19 vaccines available around the globe. Wealthy countries have been reluctant to give up precious stocks until they have inoculated their own populations.
Organizers have taken steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the London meeting, including setting up plastic screens between participants and making onsite COVID-19 tests available.
The British government invited the foreign ministers of Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to join parts of the meeting, including a dinner last night at the grand Lancaster House in central London. The guest list was intended to underline the G7’s support for democracies, as well as the UK government’s attempts to build stronger ties with Asia in the wake of the nation’s departure from the EU.
The government hopes the resumption of in-person G7 meetings — after more than a year of disruption by the pandemic — would give the group a jolt of energy and bolster attempts to forge a post-Brexit “Global Britain” role for the UK.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to host the other G7 leaders at a summit in Cornwall, England, next month.
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