LONDON (REUTERS) – Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries were gathering in London on Monday (May 7) for their first in-person meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with British host Dominic Raab opening with talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The week is billed by Britain, which holds the group’s rotating presidency, as a chance to reassert the West’s influence and address issues such as the Covid-19 recovery, climate change and how to deal with China and Russia.
The ministers will lay groundwork for US President Joe Biden’s first scheduled trip abroad since taking office: a G-7 summit in Britain next month meant to revive cooperation with traditional allies after years of friction under Mr Donald Trump.
In addition to G-7 members Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, Britain has also invited ministers from Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea this week. Meetings will kick off with dinner on Monday evening.
Before that, Mr Raab and Mr Blinken will meet to discuss shared goals. Britain is keen to capitalise on Mr Biden’s willingness to re-engage with global efforts to fight climate change, and to restore a nuclear deal with Iran repudiated by Mr Trump.
Mr Raab said on Sunday the G-7 would look at a proposal to build a rapid response mechanism to counter Russian disinformation, and, in a reference to China, spoke of the need to stand up for open markets and democracy.
“On all of these areas we want to be absolutely firm, and standing shoulder to shoulder not just with Americans, as important as they are, but also with our wider allies – that’s why the G-7 is so important,” Mr Raab said.
He and Mr Blinken are also expected to discuss ongoing trade talks with the United States as Britain seeks a so-far elusive deal, touted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as one of the biggest opportunities opened by quitting the European Union.