‘Shared challenges and rising threats on agenda at G7 foreign ministers meeting’

Emma Bowden, PA

Dominic Raab is set to discuss “shared challenges and rising threats” with his G7 counterparts during face-to-face talks as the UK hosts the first foreign ministers meeting for more than two years.

The Foreign Secretary will lead discussions on relations with Russia, China and Iran on Tuesday, as well as the crisis in Myanmar, violence in Ethiopia and Syria, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

It comes after Mr Raab held talks with US secretary of state Antony Blinken in London on Monday, with discussions set to continue with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

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As the two countries forge a fresh relationship following the departure of Donald Trump from the White House, Mr Blinken said the US has “no closer ally, no closer partner” than the UK.

Nations including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU will join the UK for talks throughout the day on Tuesday, while the foreign ministers will attend a dinner discussion with the guest nations that evening.

Discussions are set to cover the coup in Myanmar, when Mr Raab will urge his counterparts to take stronger action against the military junta, before turning to the situation in Libya and the ongoing war in Syria.

Mr Raab will use Tuesday evening to outline a vision of cooperation between the G7 and Indo-Pacific nations to develop stronger trade ties, ensure stability and tackle climate change, according to the FCDO.

Ahead of the talks, he said: “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.

G7 foreign ministers meeting
Mr Raab held talks with his US counterpart on Monday (Jonathan Buckmaster/Daily Express/PA)

“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.”

G7 ministers will invest 15 billion US dollars (£10.9 billion) in development finance over the next two years to help women in developing countries access jobs, build resilient businesses and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

They are also expected to sign up to new targets to get 40 million more girls into school, and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in poorer nations by 2026, the FCDO said.

But the commitments come as Mr Raab faces sustained criticism for cuts to foreign aid, from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%, citing the financial impact of the pandemic.

The Foreign Secretary told the joint UK-US press conference that aid cuts had been a “difficult decision” but that the UK still has scope “to be an even greater force for good in the world”.

Elsewhere, Mr Raab held face-to-face talks at Chevening House in Kent on Monday with Japan’s minister of foreign affairs Toshimitsu Motegi, where they spoke of trade, security co-operation and climate change.

Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and South Africa have been invited as guests as the UK tries to deepen ties with the Indo-Pacific region.

Regular testing, size limits and other measures have been pledged to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the discussions.