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G7 foreign ministers meet in London with Myanmar on the agenda

Germany's Heiko Maas (left) is in London to meet Dominic Raab, and other foreign ministers, for the first G7 face-to-face talks in more than two years...

Germany's Heiko Maas (left) is in London to meet Dominic Raab, and other foreign ministers, for the first G7 face-to-face talks in more than two years...

G7 foreign ministers gathered in London on Tuesday with human rights and protecting democracy high on the agenda.

A number of global issues of concern will be discussed throughout the day, but it is the military coup in Myanmar and the ensuing crackdown on protesters that will dominate the opening exchanges between the ministers.

Tuesday's meeting comes after Britain's foreign secretary Dominic Raab met his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, on Monday, as well as his opposite number from Japan, Toshimitsu Motegi.

UK wants tougher action on Myanmar junta

Representatives from Germany, the US, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the EU will begin by watching a video from Myanmar's National Unity Government — a council of ousted lawmakers whose primary objective is to restore partial democracy in the beleaguered nation.

The video from the anti-coup activists and ethnic minorities will update the ministers with the current situation on the ground.

Britain's Raab is expected to call for stronger action against the junta, who seized power on February 1. The tougher measures he is urging from fellow G7 members include expanding targeted sanctions against entities connected to the military, supporting arms embargoes and increasing humanitarian assistance.

As the day progresses, discussions will move to Libya and the ongoing war in Syria.

Russia and China face scrutiny

Germany's Heiko Maas expressed his misgivings over the behavior of "authoritarian states" who the German foreign minister sees as trying to "play us off against each other," he warned other G7 members on the eve of the talks.

"Breaching the rules is becoming the norm," Maas continued. "Whether it be in the Indo-Pacific region, in Latin America or in Eastern Europe."

Russia's recent geopolitical moves will also be under the microscope, as well as the Kremlin's imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and the situation in Belarus.

The foreign ministers will also discuss violence in Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, the Sahel and western Balkans, as part of what London said were "pressing geopolitical issues that threaten to undermine democracy, freedoms and human rights."

Following talks through the day, the foreign ministers will hold a dinner discussion with guest nations India, Australia, South Africa, South Korea and this year's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chair Brunei.

British opportunity

Britain, which holds the G7 rotating presidency, has billed the event as a chance to reassert its influence and play a greater role in dealing with the perceived threats of China and Russia.

"The UK's presidency of the G7 is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is much needed to tackle shared challenges and rising threats," Raab said in a statement.

The ministers of the world's leading economies are meeting face-to-face for the first time in more than two years after a coronavirus-enforced pause.

The meeting comes ahead of a summit between world leaders due to take place in June in Cornwall, south-west England.

jsi/msh (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

Updated : 2021-05-16 12:22 GMT+08:00