Russian President Vladimir Putin watches before the military parade for Victory Day in Red Square, which marks the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II on June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.
Foreign ministers from the group of seven (G-7) developed countries will meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the most pressing geopolitical challenges facing the world, including Russia and China.
The UK is hosting the G-7 foreign and development ministers in the first face-to-face meetings since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the first gathering of the group̵
Geopolitical issues that the United Kingdom said “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,” said the government in a statement.
Russia’s “ongoing malicious activity,” the United Kingdom said, including the build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine, its imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the situation in Belarus, are high 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 common commitment to “maintain transatlantic unity in defense of our common values and in response to direct threats,” Blinken said.
The talks come ahead of a major G-7 summit in Cornwall in early June, where G-7 leaders will be present, including US President Joe Biden, who will take his first planned trip abroad since joining.
The G-7 is an alliance between the world’s most industrialized nations: Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The EU participates in all discussions as a guest.
Following talks throughout the day on Tuesday, the foreign ministers will then hold a dinner discussion with the host countries Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa and Brunei as the current ASEAN President.
Diplomatic relations between the G-7 and Russia have remained strained since its annexation of Crimea by Ukraine in 2014, leading to Russia’s suspension from the then Group Eight (G-8) and international sanctions against Russia.
Since then, Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections in 2016, a nerve agent attack in the UK in 2018, a cyber attack on US governments and corporate networks and alleged interference in the 2020 elections have led to further sanctions against the country. The Russian government has repeatedly denied all the allegations.
Meanwhile, relations between the West and China are still at a dead end since the departure of former US President Donald Trump, but there are still questions about the future of international trade.
International relations with Iran are also in focus after the Biden government 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 2018 deal.
The United Kingdom currently holds the rotating presidency of the G-7, and Foreign Secretary Raab commented that the United Kingdom presidency “is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is very necessary to tackle common challenges and growing threats. “
Tuesday’s talks will also cover tensions and escalating conflicts in other parts of the world, including the coup in Myanmar. The United Kingdom said it would urge G-7 nations to take stronger action against the military junta, including extending targeted sanctions against those associated with the junta; support for arms embargoes and increased humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable in the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and British Secretary of State Dominic Raab (R) walk along Downing Street in London, UK on 3 May 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 take place as developed countries slowly resume personal 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 United Kingdom said Tuesday’s meeting was a crucial opportunity to revive personal 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 global girls’ educational goals, strict climate finance targets and new measures to prevent famine and food insecurity. “
Negotiations in London come ahead of a high-profile G-7 summit in Cornwall on 11-13. June, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will bring together leaders of member states, the EU and host countries.
Covid-safe measures are in place for the London talks, including daily coronavirus testing. All national guidelines on social distancing will be in force, the United Kingdom said.