03 May 2021, United Kingdom, London: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) speaks during a press conference at Downing Street with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire/dpa
03 May 2021, United Kingdom, London: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) speaks during a press conference at Downing Street with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire/dpa

Ministers at the G7 have said they are “deeply concerned” about “irresponsible and destabilising behaviour” continuing in Russia.

Representatives from Britain, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union raised their concerns about ongoing actions from Russia, including military forces remaining near Ukraine’s borders and in “illegally-annexed” Crimea, in a new 27-page statement seen by dpa on Wednesday.

The nations added they “regret the deterioration in Russia’s relations with Western countries” and stressed the importance of respecting the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Elsewhere, the nations raised their concerns about the political and human rights crisis following the August 2020 presidential election in Belarus and called on China to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Other areas the ministers said they are concerned about include the human rights violations and abuses in North Korea and the coup in Myanmar.

The statement came after a busy third day of meetings ahead of next month’s G7 summit in Cornwall, England.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted on Wednesday he had been exposed to “possible Covid-19 positive cases” on Tuesday and would now hold all his meetings virtually.
But the Indian delegation did not pose a health risk to other dignitaries, official sources told dpa.

“As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 meeting today as well,” Jaishankar tweeted.

Under British laws, self-isolation following exposure to the coronavirus requires people to remain in quarantine for 10 days.

Members of India’s team have held other meetings this week before news broke of the possible coronavirus infection.

However, face masks were worn and social distancing was in place during those meetings, the official said.

Jaishankar was pictured meeting Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday, but it is understood Patel will not have to self-isolate because the meeting had been held in line with current rules.

A senior British diplomat told dpa: “We deeply regret that Foreign Minister Dr Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person and will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing.”

Images taken throughout the week have shown the ministers wearing face masks, standing two metres apart from each other and greeting one another with elbow-bumps.

As well as attendees wearing face masks, plastic screens were in place at the meetings and daily testing was carried out throughout the week.

The nations’ representatives discussed how to recover from the coronavirus outbreak at the all-day meeting on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Raab met with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne for bilateral talks.

Separately, Britain’s vaccines minister confirmed reports that multi-million pounds of funding had been set aside for coronavirus testing in Britain.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the multi-million pound investment in testing facilities at Porton Down in Wiltshire, south west England, would “future-proof” Britain against new variants of Covid-19, the BBC reported.

He added booster jabs for Britons would be ready to deploy from September.

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