G7 ministers meet in person in London for the first time in 2 years

G7: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, attends a press conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab following their bilateral meeting in London on May 3, 2021, during the G7 foreign ministers meeting. 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. Ben Stansall/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Tribune News Service

LONDON – Ministers from the G7 countries were meeting in person for the first time in two years on Monday in London, with discussions including the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a post-Brexit trade deal, Iran's nuclear program and China.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab met one-on-one with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of the G7 meeting, where ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. were to join.

At a news conference, Raab said Britain stood "shoulder to shoulder" with the U.S. on issues such as Iran and Afghanistan, while also agreeing that China needs to stick to its international commitments.

Blinken said the U.S. had "no closer ally, no closer partner" than Britain, the Press Association reported.

Raab also talked with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi, principally about Britain's application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a free trade agreement of mainly Pacific nations which includes Japan.

"The depth of the UK-Japan relationship is based around a shared outlook on democracy, free trade, tackling climate change, and security collaboration," Raab said in a statement.

"In my talks with Foreign Minister Motegi we discussed Japanese support for the UK’s application to join CPTPP, tackling climate change and COVID-19..."

Members of the European Union are also attending the first in-person G7 event since the coronavirus pandemic, and representatives from Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa and the chairman of the Association of South-East Asian Nations have been invited as guests.

Britain's Foreign Office said the ministers will also discuss plans to boost girls' education and women's employment while the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A $15 billion fund is being set up that will be administered to developing countries over the next two years.

The nations are signing up to new global targets that aim to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in low- and lower-middle income countries by 2026.

The face-to-face meeting is taking place ahead of a G7 summit planned for June in the English county of Cornwall.

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