Fri, 07 May 2021

G-7 Nations Vow to End Syrian War, Top US Diplomat Says

Voice of America
05 May 2021, 04:35 GMT+10

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the Group of 7 industrialized nations have vowed to end the 10-year civil war in Syria.

My @G7 counterparts and I reaffirmed our commitment to a political resolution for ending the conflict in Syria," Blinken tweeted as he and other G-7 members attended their first in-person meetings in two years.

The Syrian conflict was among a range of world issues to be discussed by foreign ministers representing the G-7 nations during meetings in London. Others include relations with China and Russia, the coup in Myanmar, and the situation in Afghanistan.

Britain's foreign office said in Tuesday's sessions Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb "will lead discussions on pressing geopolitical issues that threaten to undermine democracy, freedoms and human rights."

Raab said the talks are "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."

He is expected to urge G-7 members to sanction individuals and entities connected to Myanmar's military junta, to support arms embargoes and to boost humanitarian aid to the people of Myanmar.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted on arrival by Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the start of the G7... U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted on arrival by Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the start of the G-7 foreign ministers meeting in London, Britain, May 4, 2021. (Ben Stansall/Pool via Reuters)

Blinken met with Raab on Monday and said regarding China the goal is not to "try to contain China or to hold China down."

"What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades to the benefit, I would argue not just of our own citizens, but of people around the world including, by the way, China," Blinken told reporters.

Raab said the United States and Britain are also looking for constructive ways to work with China "in a sensible and positive manner" on issues including climate change when possible.

U.S. President Joe Biden has identified competition with China as his administration's greatest foreign policy challenge. In his first speech to Congress last week, he pledged to maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific and boost U.S. technological development.

Last month, Blinken said the United States was concerned about China's aggressive actions against Taiwan and warned it would be a "serious mistake" for anyone to try to change the status quo in the western Pacific by force.

Elsewhere in the region, the United States said it is ready to engage diplomatically with North Korea to achieve the ultimate goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, following the completion of a months-long U.S. policy review on North Korea.

"What we have now is a policy that calls for a calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with North Korea, to try to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies and our deployed forces," Blinken said Monday.

Raab said Britain and the United States "share the strategic paradigm," and both countries will support each other's efforts.

On Friday, the Biden administration announced it completed the review of North Korean policy, expressing openness to talks with the reclusive communist nation. Biden is also expected to appoint a special envoy for North Korean human rights issues.

North Korea lashed out at the United States and its allies on Sunday in a series of statements, saying recent comments from Washington are proof of a hostile policy.

A statement by Kwon Jong Gun, head of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's North America Department, warns that Pyongyang would seek "corresponding measures" and that if Washington tries to approach relations with Pyongyang through "outdated and old-school policies" from the perspective of the Cold War, it will face an increasingly unaffordable crisis in the near future.

"I hope that North Korea will take the opportunity to engage diplomatically and to see if there are ways to move forward toward the objective of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And so, we will look to see not only what North Korea says but what it actually does in the coming days and months," the top U.S. diplomat added.

Blinken's remarks followed his separate meetings with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, where the foreign ministers pledged U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral cooperation toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The G-7 ministerial talks are laying the foundation for a summit of leaders from those countries in June, also in Britain.

In addition to Britain and the United States, the G-7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Australia, India, South Africa, South Korea and Brunei are also taking part in this week's talks.

After the G-7 meetings, Blinken is scheduled to travel to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other senior government officials.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken will "reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression."

Chris Hannas contributed to this report.

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