Boris Johnson has met with the US Secretary of State in an attempt to forge ties with the new Biden administration – as G7 foreign ministers met ahead of the June summit.
The Prime Minister welcomed Antony Blinken to Downing Street as the United States and the UK forges a new relationship after Donald Trump’s tenure and as the UK tries to forge new trade ties after Brexit.
Ahead of the talks, Blinken, who is in charge of US foreign affairs, said the US had “no closer ally, no closer partner” than the UK.
A Downing Street statement said the two discussed “the close alignment between British and American foreign policy and that the cooperation agreed between the two would be” instrumental “in fighting the pandemic, protecting the environment and “other international priorities”.
“They also praised the broader work the UK and US are doing together in areas such as trade and defense,” he added.
The Prime Minister and Blinken also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, Iran and China, and said the G7 had important work to do in the global vaccine deployment, “including efforts to increase capacity of international manufacture “.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab held talks with Mr Blinken on Monday, ahead of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in London on Tuesday, the first face-to-face meeting since the outbreak of the pandemic, which has focused on relations with Russia, China and Iran.
The group of foreign ministers of industrialized countries also discussed the crisis in Myanmar and the violence in Ethiopia and Syria.
Separated from each other by clear screens at the summit table, Mr. Raab welcomed his counterparts from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United States and the EU with awkward bumps on the forearms.
Regular testing and cleaning regimes are in place, one insider jokes that there is ‘hand sanitizer dripping on the walls’ as the UK is keen to avoid any COVID-19 issues as it organizes the first in a series of international meetings aimed at securing its place on the world stage after Brexit.
Asked what foreign ministers would say about China, Raab said: “We believe in keeping trade open, we believe in standing up for open societies, for human rights and democracy .
“We believe in safeguarding and promoting public goods – be it the environment and the fight against climate change, in particular with the COP26 (climate summit) to be held in November, but also with regard to pandemics and public health in general.
“The COVAX mechanism is particularly important at this very difficult time for developing countries, the poorest countries and the most vulnerable countries of the world.”
Mr Raab added that he and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, held a separate bilateral meeting to discuss “the importance of cooperation before COP26, in particular on international climate finance”.
They also discussed education, the two countries’ work to tackle illegal immigration to the Channel and how they could work together to address concerns about climate change, vaccine supply and health. global.
A full G7 summit will take place in June in Cornwall, marking US President Joe Biden’s first overseas visit.
Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and South Africa have been invited as guests as the UK seeks to deepen ties with the Indo-Pacific region.
G7 ministers will invest $ 15 billion (£ 10.9 billion) in development finance over the next two years to help women in developing countries access jobs, recover from the effects of pandemic and building resilient businesses.
They are also expected to sign up to new goals to get 40 million more girls in school and 20 million more in reading by the age of 10 in the poorest countries by 2026.
However, Mr Raab faces strong criticism for reducing foreign aid from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%, citing the financial impact of the pandemic.
He said aid cuts had been a “difficult decision” but that the UK still had the opportunity “to be an even greater force for good in the world”.