Raab hosting G7 foreign ministers meeting amid Covid restrictions

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will discuss access to vaccines and global security as he hosts face-to-face talks with foreign counterparts during coronavirus restrictions.

In the first G7 foreign ministers meeting in more than two years, three days of talks will begin in a Covid-secure venue in London on Monday.

The Foreign Office said Mr Raab will seek to establish “ambitious” targets on climate finance, girls’ education and global health as he comes under sustained criticism for cutting foreign aid.

Despite his stated aims, the Government’s cuts to overseas aid spending have been described as “devastating” for women and girls around the world.

Discussions on trade, China and Afghanistan with US secretary of state Antony Blinken are early in the schedule.

Mr Raab will also meet India’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar as the UK pledges to help the nation during its battle with Coivd-19.

Foreign ministers from the remaining G7 members – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU – are also expected to attend meetings, with regular testing, size limits and other measures pledged to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and South Africa have also been invited as the UK tries to deepen ties with the Indo-Pacific region.

Mr Raab said: “This week’s G7 meeting shows global Britain bringing the world’s biggest democracies together to tackle shared challenges.

“We’ll be taking action to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world, setting global girls’ education targets, agreeing ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine.”

The Government broke its manifesto commitment to maintain aid spending at 0.7% of national income by cutting spending to 0.5%, citing the financial havoc caused by the pandemic.

As the effects of the cuts have trickled out, the United Nations Population Fund blasted the 85% cut to its reproductive health agency as “devastating” for women, girls and their families.

On Saturday, it emerged Unicef will have its UK funding cut by about 60%.

The United Nations agency warned that the world’s most vulnerable children will “suffer the consequences” of the Government’s move.

A leaked memo also suggested that the UK will slash bilateral funding for overseas water, sanitation and hygiene projects by more than 80% – a move WaterAid described as “savage”.

And a report by media outlet Devex said ministers are planning to reduce funding for polio eradication by 95%.