Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) developed nations are to meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the most pressing geopolitical challenges facing the world, including Russia and China. The U.K. is hosting G-7 foreign and development ministers in the first face-to-face meetings since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the first gathering of the group’s foreign ministers since 2019.
Geopolitical issues that the U.K. said “threaten to undermine democracy, freedoms and human rights” will be on the agenda Tuesday, including “relations with Russia, China, and Iran, as well as the crisis in Myanmar, the violence in Ethiopia, and the ongoing war in Syria,” the government said in a statement. Russia’s “ongoing malign activity,” the U.K. said, including the build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine, its imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the situation in Belarus, are high on the agenda.
The G-7 is an alliance of the world’s most industrialized nations: the U.K., U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The EU participates in all discussions as a guest. Following talks through the day Tuesday, the foreign ministers will then hold a dinner discussion with guest countries Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa, and Brunei as the current ASEAN Chair.
Diplomatic relations between the G-7 with Russia remain strained since its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine which led to Russia’s suspension from what was then the Group of Eight (G-8) and international sanctions being imposed on Russia. Since then, Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, a 2018 nerve agent attack in the U.K., a cyberattack on U.S. government and corporate networks and alleged interference in the 2020 election have prompted further sanctions on the country. The Russian government has repeatedly denied all of the allegations.
Meanwhile, relations between the West and China remain at an impasse since the departure of former U.S. President Donald Trump, yet questions remain over the future of international trade. International relations with Iran are also in the spotlight after the Biden administration said it was willing to hold talks to potentially revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord in 2018.
The U.K. said Tuesday’s meeting was a crucial opportunity to revitalize in-person diplomacy and, in addition to geopolitical matters, “will look to establish a shared approach among the world’s leading democracies on equitable vaccine access, to agree global girls’ education targets, rigorous goals on climate finance and new measures to prevent famine and food insecurity.”
The talks in London come ahead of a high-profile G-7 leaders summit in Cornwall on June 11-13 where U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will gather leaders of member nations, the EU and guest countries.