UK hosts first in-person G7 foreign ministers' meeting in two years

Source: Xinhua| 2021-05-03 23:54:19|Editor: huaxia
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven at Downing Street in London, Britain, on Feb. 19, 2021. (Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/Handout via Xinhua)

Charities have welcomed G7's pledge in getting more girls into school, helping women in developing countries respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19, but said they are at odds with Britain's decision to cut its overseas aid spending.

LONDON, May 3 (Xinhua) -- The Group of Seven (G7) foreign and development ministers gathered Monday in London for the first time in two years to address such issues as economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

According to a statement released by the British government on Monday, G7 countries will sign up to new global targets to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in the next five years.

The meeting, which runs until Wednesday, will also see the ministers' commitment to investing 15 billion U.S. dollars in development finance over the next two years to help women in developing countries access jobs, build businesses and respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19, according to the statement.

Charities have welcomed the pledge but said they are at odds with Britain's decision to cut its overseas aid spending, according to the BBC.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a banner of COVID-19 tests in Casablanca, Morocco, on April 17, 2021. (Photo by Chadi/Xinhua)

The British government announced last year it would cut the country's aid spending from 0.7 percent of national income to 0.5 percent -- a reduction of more than 4 billion pounds (about 5.5 billion dollars).

"We know the reality of these aid cuts," Gwen Hines from Save the Children told the BBC.

"Life-changing, life-saving support (is) being pulled from families in the middle of a pandemic from schooling, medicine and food. I just don't see how that is global leadership at a time when the UK is hosting the G7 summit," Hines said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later Monday. The two are expected to discuss the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a post-Brexit trade deal and Iran's nuclear program, among other issues, according to Sky News.

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, India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa.

The G7 summit will be held in Cornwall, a seaside resort in southwestern England, on June 11-13.

During their virtual meeting in February, the G7 leaders pledged to cooperate with the Group of 20 (G20) and other international institutions on a range of global issues including fighting the pandemic and climate change, among others.

The leaders had reaffirmed that these will be priorities at the upcoming G7 Summit in Britain in June.

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