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World

Blinken in UK as G7 foreign ministers resume in-person talks

  • 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.
03 May 2021

LONDON: Britain this week hosts the first face-to-face meeting of G7 foreign ministers in two years, joined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as world powers tackle pandemic recovery plus growing tensions with Russia and China.

The Covid-secure gathering in London will prepare the ground for a G7 summit in southwest England next month, which will mark Joe Biden's inaugural visit to Europe as US president. Both events will also be joined by Indian leaders.

Many of the G7 nations have rallied to India's aid as the world's most populous democracy confronts a terrifying surge of coronavirus cases, although the pandemic is ebbing elsewhere in the West thanks to mass vaccination drives.

After its Brexit withdrawal from the European Union, Britain is reorienting its foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region, and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will also play host this week to ministers from Australia, South Korea and the ASEAN bloc.

In the face of Russian "lies and propaganda" over Ukraine and other fronts, Raab said he wants the G7 "to come together with a rapid rebuttal mechanism" against disinformation.

Blinken is en route to Ukraine this week pledging "unwavering" US support after Russian troops had massed on its border.

In bilateral talks Monday before the G7 ministers sit down to a working dinner, Raab and Blinken will discuss Afghanistan, China, Iran and trade, according to the British Foreign Office.

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", senior State Department official Erica Barks-Ruggles told reporters.

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