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UK calls for Western unity against Russia, China threats

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Liverpool: Russian sabre-rattling against Ukraine and an assertive China were top of the agenda as G7 foreign ministers met in Britain on Saturday, with calls for a united front against authoritarianism.

The two-day gathering of top diplomats from the world’s richest nations in Liverpool, northwest England, is the last in-person gathering of Britain’s year-long G7 presidency, before it hands over the baton to Germany.

Discussions were focused on Russia’s build-up of troops on Ukraine’s border, confronting China, limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and addressing the crisis in military-ruled Myanmar.

“We need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom and democracy,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said as she formally opened the talks, without mentioning specific countries.

“To do this, we need to have a fully united voice. We need to expand our economic and security posture around the world.”

Truss held talks on the sidelines of the summit on Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as Germany’s new Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Blinken flies on to Southeast Asia next week on a visit designed to highlight the region’s importance in Washington’s push for “peace, security and prosperity” in the Indo-Pacific region against an increasingly assertive China.

Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will join the G7 summit for the first time ever on Sunday, in a session earmarked for wide-ranging talks on issues including Covid-19 vaccines, finance and gender equality.

South Korea, Australia, South Africa and India will also participate as Britain’s chosen G7 “guests”, with many attendees taking part virtually due to the pandemic and emergence of the Omicron variant.

Truss said before the meeting that she wanted deeper ties between G7 nations in trade, investment, technology and security “so we can defend and advance freedom and democracy across the world”.

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