Foreign ministers from all of the G7 nations are meeting in London today for their first face-to-face talks in more than two years.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is hosting his counterparts at Lancaster House and he said the summit will provide the opportunity to address ‘shared challenges and rising threats’.
The ministers are due to discuss the need for urgent joined-up action to tackle a number of major global issues.
China, Myanmar, Libya, Syria and Russia are all on the formal agenda for the meeting of the G7 group.
The meeting is taking place amid strict coronavirus protocols, with ministers separated by clear screens while seated at the summit table, while the number of aides allowed in the room has been limited.
Regular testing and cleaning regimes are also being used at the summit as the UK Government tries to avoid any Covid-19 issues, with one insider joking there is ‘hand sanitiser running down the walls’.
Mr Raab set the stage for the summit last night with a press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as the pair launched a mutual charm offensive in an apparent attempt to repair the Special Relationship.
Mr Raab was full of warm words for the new US administration as he said President Joe Biden had already taken a ‘huge number of bold and very welcome steps’ on the world stage.
Meanwhile, Mr Blinken said the Special Relationship is ‘enduring’, ‘effective’ and ‘dynamic’ as well as being ‘close to the hearts of the American people’ after it was strained during Donald Trump’s time in the White House.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab welcomed his G7 counterparts to Lancaster House in central London this morning
It is the first face-to-face meeting of G7 foreign ministers in two years. Mr Raab is pictured greeting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Representatives from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are attending. Mr Raab is pictured greeting his German counterpart Heiko Mass
Today’s summit at Lancaster House was held using strict coronavirus protocols, with ministers separated by perspex screens
Jobs boost in store as Boris Johnson hails £1billion trade deal with India
More than 6,000 jobs will be created by a £1billion trade and investment deal with India, Boris Johnson announced yesterday.
The partnership contains more than £533million of new investment from India, said Downing Street.
This includes £240million from the Serum Institute of India to support clinical trials, research and potential vaccine production.
No 10 also said UK businesses had secured export deals worth more than £446million, expected to create more than 400 jobs.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs announced today will help families and communities build back from coronavirus and boost the British and Indian economies.’
A future free trade deal would ‘double the value of our trading partnership with India’ in the next decade, he added. He spoke as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK and Japan had agreed the basis for deeper trade and security cooperation.
The Prime Minister will attend a virtual meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday, after he was forced to cancel his planned visit to Delhi due to the country’s worsening coronavirus situation.
During the virtual talks, the two leaders are expected to agree an enhanced trade partnership, which Number 10 said will pave the way for a future UK-India free trade agreement.
The G7 group is made up of the world’s seven largest advanced economies – the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
The meeting of foreign ministers at Lancaster House in the capital comes ahead of a leaders’ summit scheduled to take place in Cornwall next month.
That summit will be Mr Biden’s first overseas visit since he became US President.
Representatives from a number of other nations are also attending today’s meeting.
Mr Raab said in a statement issued overnight: ‘The UK’s presidency of the G7 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.
‘The addition of our friends from Australia, India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa, as well as the chair of Asean reflects the growing significance of the Indo Pacific region for the G7.’
Mr Raab said the increased guest list was proof of ‘the increasing demand and need for agile clusters of like-minded countries that share the same values and want to protect the multilateral system’.
Britain, which left the EU last year, is looking to Asia-Pacific countries for new trade and investment opportunities, but also as a reflection of the region’s growing strategic importance.
It wants wider, stronger global commitments on tackling climate change, as it prepares to host the UN climate change summit, COP26, in November.
Ministers are meeting under strict coronavirus protocols, with stripped-back delegations and social distancing, including face-masks and perspex screens between speakers.
Those attending were also due to discuss violence in Ethiopia, Iran and North Korea, Somalia, the Sahel and western Balkans, as part of what the UK Government said were ‘pressing geopolitical issues that threaten to undermine democracy, freedoms and human rights’.
Mr Blinken last night hammered home the need for a common stance on key issues, as he reaffirmed US commitment to the ‘international rules-based order’ to tackle issues from climate change to post-pandemic recovery.
He said: ‘Most of the challenges that we face… not a single one of those challenges can be effectively met by any one country acting alone – even the United States, even the United Kingdom.
‘There is I think a stronger imperative than at any time since I’ve been involved in these issues to find ways for countries to cooperate, to coordinate, to collaborate.’
Britain and the US have been increasingly aligned in foreign policy towards geopolitical threats, particularly from Russia and China.
Mr Blinken is due to travel to Ukraine tomorrow where there is Western concern about Russia’s build-up of forces on the border, Moscow’s treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Belarus.
As the two countries forge a fresh relationship following the departure of Mr Trump from the White House, Mr Blinken said the US has ‘no closer ally, no closer partner’ than the UK.
Speaking at the press conference last night, he said: ‘It is also the 75th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous speech at Westminster College in Missouri where he described the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and how vital it is for our two countries and many others around the world.
China, Myanmar, Libya, Syria and Russia were all on the formal agenda for the meeting of the G7 group, hosted by Mr Raab
Mr Raab said in a statement issued overnight that the summit would provide the opportunity to address ‘shared challenges and rising threats’
The meeting in London of foreign ministers came a month before a G7 leaders summit is due to take place in Cornwall
Mr Raab set the stage for the summit last night with a press conference with Mr Blinken as the pair launched a mutual charm offensive in an apparent attempt to repair the Special Relationship
G7 ministers will also discuss violence in Ethiopia, Iran and North Korea, Somalia, the Sahel and western Balkans
‘Three quarters of a century later, that Special Relationship is enduring, it is effective, it is dynamic and it is close to the hearts of the American people.’
He added: ‘The United States has no closer ally, no closer partner, than the United Kingdom and I am very glad for the chance to say that again here today.’
The Special Relationship was put under pressure during Mr Trump’s presidency due to disagreements on a variety of issues like Nato military spending and climate change.
Mr Raab lavished praise on Mr Biden and the new US administration as he signalled a resetting of relations.
‘I think it is fair to say the Biden administration is barely 100 days old but has already taken a huge number of bold and very welcome steps on issues like climate change, global health and human rights, and that has really created momentum in efforts to tackle these pressing global issues,’ the Foreign Secretary said.