The cold war intensifies

(Left to right) Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze, Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro L Locsin Jr, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock , Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, British Foreign Minister Liz Truss, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Canadian Minister for International Development Harjit Sajjan, top Union Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell and Brunei Foreign Minister Darussalam Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof pose for a family photograph during the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ summit on the last day of the summit in Liverpool, in the north-west of England, December 12, 2021.-AFP

LIVERPOOL: A new display of Western unity against Russia and China was staged by British Foreign Minister Liz Truss as she hosted a weekend meeting of foreign ministers from the most important countries on Sunday. rich in the world.

The ministers of the industrialized countries of the Group of Seven (G7) sought to show “a demonstration of unity against the global aggressors”. The UK is seeking an elusive club of wealthy nations consensus in response to what it calls Russia’s “malicious behavior” and tensions with China and Iran.

“We must defend ourselves against the growing threats from hostile actors,” said British Foreign Minister Liz Truss as she opened the meeting of the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France , Germany, Italy and Japan. “And we must unite firmly to stand up to the aggressors who seek to limit the limits of freedom and democracy. ”

Read more: A new cold war?

Senior G7 diplomats said time was running out for Iran to accept a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions, and warned Russia of “massive” consequences if it invaded Ukraine. On Iran, Foreign Minister Liz Truss said the resumption of talks in Vienna was the “last chance for the Islamic Republic to come to the negotiating table with a serious resolution.”

“There is still time for Iran to conclude this agreement,” she said at a press conference. The final communiqué of the talks said Iran “must stop its nuclear escalation and seize the opportunity to strike a deal, while it is still possible.”

Negotiations resumed Thursday in an attempt to revive the 2015 agreement between Iran and the world powers, from which the United States withdrew under Donald Trump in 2018. Iran claims to only want to develop civilian capacity, but the Western powers say its stockpile of enriched uranium is stretching far beyond, and could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to reverse the deal and Iranian officials maintain they are committed to the talks. But Tehran has been accused of backing down on progress made earlier this year and buying time.

Truss’ comments are the first time a signatory to the original deal has issued an ultimatum for the talks. Britain, which cedes the G7 presidency to Germany next year, described the two-day conference in Liverpool, north-west England, as a chance to tackle authoritarianism in the world.

Besides Iran, the formation of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine dominated discussions, given fears of a possible invasion of the former Soviet state. Wealthy G7 democracies expressed concern over China’s “coercive economic policies” in a final statement released on Sunday.

“On China, we discussed a series of issues and challenges, such as the situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, in the East and South China Seas and the importance of peace and stability through the Taiwan Strait, “said British Foreign Minister Liz Truss, who chaired the G7 meeting in Liverpool.

“We have also expressed our concern about coercive economic policies.” As Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves the West guessing about Ukraine, it was the might of Chinese President Xi Jinping that captured long-term strategic attention when diplomats from the Richest Group of Seven Democracies met. this week-end.

The United States and its other G7 allies are seeking a coherent response to Xi’s growing assertion after China’s dramatic economic and military rise over the past 40 years.

Putin was the immediate tactical center of talks in the English city between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts. There was support for President Joe Biden’s attempt to back Ukraine and deter Putin with a clear warning of tough economic sanctions.

“There is enormous convergence on what will unfortunately be necessary if Russia makes this very bad choice,” said a senior US State Department official.

China’s re-emergence as the world’s leading power is seen as one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 that ended the Cold War.

Speaking after meetings with her G7 counterparts in Liverpool, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Iran had resumed talks with a position that postponed negotiations for six months.

Truss said there was “a very united voice … that there would be massive consequences for Russia in the event of an incursion into Ukraine.” In the final communiqué, the ministers unanimously supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, congratulating President Volodymyr Zelensky on Kiev’s “restraining position”.

All options, including sweeping political and economic sanctions, are on the table if Russia ignores a diplomatic solution, officials said. A senior US State Department official said on Saturday that “a large number of democratic countries” were ready to join the G7 countries of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States to take action.

Biden earlier this week held a virtual summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to voice Western concerns. He is sending his top diplomat for Europe and Eurasian affairs to Kiev and Moscow next week for follow-up talks with senior officials.

Russia says the military build-up is a defensive measure against Ukraine’s rapprochement with NATO. Pope Francis also called for the situation to be “resolved through serious international dialogue and not with arms”, following the prayer of the Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square.

From Liverpool, Antony Blinken flies to South East Asia as part of Washington’s campaign for “peace, security and prosperity” in the Indo-Pacific region. Britain’s G7 presidency this year has been dominated by responding to Beijing’s alleged widespread violations of national rights, as well as rampant authoritarianism in its former colony, Hong Kong.

Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took part in talks with the G7 for the first time, with serious concerns about security in the South China Sea. Truss said she and her counterparts are concerned about China’s “coercive economic policies” and need to counter them with their own initiatives as an alternative.

“What we want to do is expand the investment reach, the economic trade reach of like-minded freedom-loving democracies,” she added. “That is why we are stepping up our investments in low and middle income countries.”


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