UK calls for united front at G7 meeting against Russia, China threats
Issued on: 11/12/2021 – 19:06
Russian sabre-rattling against Ukraine and an assertive China were top of the agenda as G7 foreign ministers met in Britain on Saturday, with calls for a united front against authoritarianism.
The two-day gathering of top diplomats from the world’s richest nations in Liverpool, northwest England, is the last in-person gathering of Britain’s year-long G7 presidency, before it hands over the baton to Germany.
Discussions were focused on Russia’s build-up of troops on Ukraine’s border, confronting China, limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and addressing the crisis in military-ruled Myanmar.
“We need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom and democracy,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said as she formally opened the talks, without mentioning specific countries.
“To do this, we need to have a fully united voice. We need to expand our economic and security posture around the world.”
Truss held talks on the sidelines of the summit on Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in addition as Germany’s new Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
Blinken flies on to Southeast Asia next week on a visit designed to highlight the vicinity’s importance in Washington’s push for “peace, security and wealth” in the Indo-Pacific vicinity against an increasingly assertive China.
Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will join the G7 summit for the first time ever on Sunday, in a session earmarked for wide-ranging talks on issues including Covid-19 vaccines, finance and gender equality.
South Korea, Australia, South Africa and India will also participate as Britain’s chosen G7 “guests”, with many attendees taking part virtually due to the pandemic and emergence of the Omicron variant.
Truss said before the meeting that she wanted deeper ties between G7 nations in trade, investment, technology and security “so we can defend and improvement freedom and democracy across the world”.
Truss, who replaced Dominic Raab in the role in September, set out her foreign policy vision in a major address on Wednesday.
She warned Moscow it would be “a strategic mistake” to move into Ukraine, following growing concerns over a big Russian troop build-up on the border which the Kremlin says is defensive against any move by Kiev towards NATO.
That echoed comments delivered by US President Joe Biden to his Russian style Vladimir Putin in a virtual summit the past day when he warned of unheard of sanctions if Ukraine was attacked.
Washington’s top diplomat for Europe and Eurasian affairs, Karen Donfried, will keep up follow-up talks with senior government officials in Kiev and Moscow next week to try to end the conflict.
She will then head to Brussels for further discussions with NATO and EU allies “to pursue a diplomatic solution” to the stand-off.
Britain’s G7 presidency has been dominated by responding to Beijing’s increasing international assertiveness and alleged extensive domestic rights abuses, including of its Muslim minority Uyghur population.
This week, a panel of human rights lawyers and experts in London concluded Beijing had committed genocide by imposing population restrictions, including birth control and forced sterilisations, on the Uyghurs.
China rejected the tribunal’s findings.
At a G7 leaders’ summit in June, Biden pushed for a stronger collective stance towards both China and Russia, and this week saw Washington, London and Canberra announce diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Truss has said the West needs to work towards ending the “strategic dependence” of a growing number of low- and middle-income countries on its adversaries, in various areas from energy to technology.
At the summit she will push attendees to provide those countries with more finance for infrastructure and technology projects, according to the foreign office.
G7 countries and their allies must offer “an different to unsustainable debt from non-market economies” like China, it said.
Truss will unveil a UK-led initiative — the Africa Resilience Investment Accelerator — to raise collaboration investing in Africa’s “most fragile markets” and help develop “a pipeline of investable opportunities”.
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