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UK, US foreign ministers meet on COVID-19, free trade deal

London: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss efforts to build back better from COVID-19 and a possible free trade agreement between the two countries.

The meeting took place in London ahead of the first in-person meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) foreign and development ministers in two years, according to a statement by the British government.

“Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hosted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at 1 Carlton Gardens ahead of this week’s G7 Foreign Ministers meeting. They held a discussion on foreign policy priorities and opportunities to strengthen the UK-U.S. friendship,” a British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson said in a statement.

“Discussions included UK-US shared commitment to open societies, a strengthened multilateral system, efforts to build back better from COVID-19, including through the COVAX facility and a UK-U.S. FTA (free trade agreement),” said the spokesperson.

They also discussed latest developments in Afghanistan, Iran and Ethiopia, among other issues, according to the spokesperson.
During their joint press conference, Raab said that the world has changed quite a bit in the past two years, which brings challenges that require global solutions.
“Our societies and our economies have been shocked and shaken by coronavirus,” said Raab.
“There’s also rapid technological change which brings new opportunities, we’ve seen that with collaboration on things like the vaccine, but also acute challenges, and there are global threats from COVID to climate change that frankly demand global solutions and we’re committed to trying to find and forge those solutions,” he added.
The G7 foreign and development ministers gathered Monday for a three-day meeting in London for the first time in two years to address such issues as economist recovery after the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. The conference was reportedly held with strict COVID-secure measures being insured by organisers.
The last G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting took place in France in April 2019.
Britain holds the rotating presidency of the G7 group, which also includes the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy.
The meeting this week will also be attended by representatives from the European Union, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, and South Africa, as well as this year’s chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Brunei.
The G7 summit will be held in Cornwall, a seaside resort in southwestern England, on June 11-13.

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