External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will fly to London for the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers meeting next week and hold talks with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the British government said on Sunday.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the first in-person summit of the Group of Seven ministers – comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the UK as well as the European Union (EU) – will be hosted at a COVID-secure venue in the centre of London from Monday to Wednesday.
Alongside India, Australia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been invited to the UK-hosted G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meeting as part of Britain’s foreign policy focus on ties with the Indo-Pacific region.
“They will discuss the UK’s commitment to working with India to tackle COVID-19, following the UK Prime Minister’s [Boris Johnson] pledge that the UK will support India’s fight against the pandemic,” the FCDO said, of the bilateral meeting between Mr Jaishankar and Raab, which is scheduled to take place at Chevening House in Kent, in south east England.
It is a precursor to the UK-hosted G7 Summit in Cornwall next month, to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited by his Prime Minister Johnson.
During the ministerial summit next week, the UK as the host nation said it will seek to establish ambitious targets on climate finance, girls’ education, a coordinated approach to strengthening global health and new measures to prevent famine as ministers from the world’s leading democracies come together.
“This week’s G7 meeting shows Global Britain bringing the world’s biggest democracies together to tackle shared challenges,” said Raab.
“We’ll be taking action to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world, setting global girls” education targets, agreeing ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine,” he said.
COVID-secure measures will be in place throughout the meetings, including an on-site testing facility at the venue, social distancing measures and Perspex screens to separate delegates in meetings. There will be strict limits on the size of delegations and attendees will be required to take regular tests.
“The meetings will be a demonstration of how to conduct diplomatic business safely and successfully as we recover from the pandemic,” the FCDO said.
Throughout the week, Raab will host bilateral meetings with each of the G7 foreign ministers and invited guests, starting with talks on issues including trade, China, Afghanistan and Iran with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in London on Monday.
He will also host Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi at Chevening to “deepen trade and security cooperation and agree a shared approach on the security of the Indo-Pacific region”.
“Their attendance will bring broader geographic representation of nations committed to reforming and safeguarding the international order in which open societies and economies flourish. It also demonstrates the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to upholding shared values and norms,” the FCDO said, in reference to the guest nations invited to the summit.
Staff and delegates will need to complete daily COVID-19 tests throughout the summit prior to entering any of the venues and an on-site testing facility will have the capacity to test up to 50 delegates per hour.