G7 foreign ministers get to work on global economic recovery, helping India
Foreign ministers of the G7 group of world's top economies are to be joined by European Union representatives when they convene this week in London for the first face-to-face meeting in two years. The agenda will be dominated by Covid-19 recovery and growing political tensions with Russia and China.
The G7 (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US) meeting will also be attended by India, as the world's most populous democracy confronts a terrifying surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
The Covid-secure gathering of foreign ministers in London will prepare the ground for a G7 summit in southwest England next month. That summit will mark Joe Biden's inaugural visit to Europe as US president.
Apart from global economic recovery in the wake of the Covid pandemic, and a special focus on the alarming spike in infections in India, political and military tensions with Moscow and Beijing are expected to dominate Monday evening's working dinner.
In addition to the Indian delegations, South Africa will also attend this week and June's summit.
Need for a rapid response to Russian 'lies'
In the face of Russian "lies and propaganda" over Ukraine and other fronts, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he wants the G7 "to come together with a rapid rebuttal mechanism" to combat disinformation.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend the London talks, en route to Ukraine where he will pledge "unwavering" US support after Russian troops had massed on its border.
In bilateral talks before the G7 ministers convene, Raab and Blinken will discuss Afghanistan, China, Iran and trade, according to the British Foreign Office.
China accused of media manipulation
Like Russia, China also stands accused by Western intelligence of unleashing trolls on social media, and of using foreign-language arms of its state media to channel an aggressive line on issues such as the plight of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
On China, the US expects the G7 "to discuss how we can work closely with our allies and partners to address our collective challenges from a position of strength," according to a State Department official.
The last in-person meeting of foreign ministers from the world's leading economic powers took place in the seaside resort of Dinard, northwest France, in April 2019.
When the G7 ministers reconvene for formal talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, they will have an on-site testing facility and plastic screens to separate them in meetings, and Britain has enforced limits on the size of each delegation.
Britain is also gearing up to host the UN's next climate change summit, COP 26, to be held in Glasgow in November.
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