(This was originally posted in Zee News by Sidhant Sibal)
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will begin a four-day visit to London from Monday primarily to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of Group of Seven (G7) rich nations. The United Kingdom has invited India for an in-person G7 foreign ministers meeting, for which FMs of Australia, South Korea, South Africa, and the Chair and Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have also been invited.
A ministry of external affairs release said,”External Affairs Minister will be visiting London from 3-6 May 2021 to participate in the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting, at which India has been invited as a guest country. He will thereafter undertake a bilateral visit to the UK.”
The meet takes place in London from May 3rd to 5th and will be the first physical G7 FMs meet to take place in over 2 years. The last such G7 FMs meet took place in Dinard and Saint-Malo, France in April 2019.
Ahead of the visit, EAM and UK Foreign secretary Dominic Raab both spoke to each other on a range of issues including the ongoing covid pandemic in India. The UK is sending supplies to India to deal with the devastating covid pandemic. These supplies include 495 oxygen concentrators, that can extract oxygen from the air, 120 non-invasive ventilators, and 20 manual ventilators.
The visit by EAM will not only see him taking part in G7 FMs meet but also many bilaterals as well. US Secretary of state Antony Blinken will also travel to London and a bilateral between the two is likely. This will the first physical meet between the 2 ministers since the new Biden administration took charge.
“Secretary Blinken will attend the G7 Foreign and Development Minister’s Meeting in London, the United Kingdom, from May 3-5, 2021.”, the US State Department said.
G7 is a grouping of 7 industrialized countries–Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, US & UK – plus the EU. The key focus of the meet obviously will be on the ongoing covid crisis that continues to ravage large parts of the world but also Climate Change with the UK set to host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) meet later this year.
The meet will also talk about the agenda of the upcoming G7 leaders meet under UK’s chairmanship. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to the 47th G7 summit that will take place in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, the UK from 11th to 13th June. India has been regularly invited for the G7 summit since 2019–first by France, then in 2020 by the US, and now by the UK this year. The physical G7 meet last year, under the then US President Donald Trump never happened, for reasons not known but perhaps due to covid pandemic.
The then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was first invited for the G8 grouping in 2005, back then by the UK in Gleneagles. Group became G7 after Russia was “disinvited” in 2014 over the Crimea crisis.