UK opposes G7 dependence on Russian gas supply

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, left, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, wearing face covers to combat the spread of the coronavirus, pose for a photo ahead of a bilateral meeting ahead of the Ministerial Summit foreigners from the G7 in Liverpool, England on Friday December 10. 2021. – Blinken arrived in Britain for a meeting of G7 ministers before traveling to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. AP PHOTO

LIVERPOOL: Britain’s top diplomat greeted the Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers in Liverpool on Saturday with a warning that “free democratic nations” must wean themselves off Russian gas and money to preserve their independence.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss welcomes US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other G7 counterparts for weekend talks in the port city in northwest England as the club of Wealthy nations are facing growing tensions with Russia, China and Iran.

As concern mounts over the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, Truss said the G7 meeting would be “a show of unity among the big, like-minded economies that we are absolutely going to be strong in.” our position against aggression, against aggression against Ukraine. “

Truss told broadcasters that military action against Ukraine would be “a strategic mistake” with “serious consequences” for Moscow.

The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies fear Russia’s movement of troops and arms to the border region is a prelude to an invasion and say they will impose heavy sanctions on the Russian economy if this happens.

Moscow denies planning to attack Ukraine and accuses Kiev of its own allegedly aggressive designs.

Truss said she wanted to work with other countries “to ensure that free democratic nations can have an alternative to Russian gas supplies,” a reference to the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Russia. ‘Germany.

The Liverpool meeting will be the first international gathering of the new German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, a Green environmentalist politician who previously opposed Nord Stream 2.

Britain is not very dependent on Russian gas, but London’s financial district and real estate market are major hubs for Russian money. British authorities have long been accused of turning a blind eye to ill-gotten funds from around the world.

Truss insisted Britain is ready to consider further economic measures to protect its “core values”.

“There have been decisions made by the free world (…) in the short term to get cheap energy or cheap finance, and that comes at a long term cost to freedom and democracy,” a- she declared. “And we can’t make that mistake again.”

Diplomats will also discuss China’s muscle contraction in the Indo-Pacific and overdue efforts to vaccinate the world against the coronavirus at the meeting, the last major event of Britain’s year as president of the G7.

The meeting of senior diplomats from UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan also comes as negotiators meet in Vienna to try to revive a troubled international deal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Truss warned this week that the Vienna talks are “Iran’s last chance to sign” the deal, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions. It faltered after then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and Iran began ramping up its uranium enrichment.

In a speech to the Chatham House think tank, Truss urged Iran to join the deal “because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran from securing its nuclear weapons.”

Climate change, tensions in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan and North Korea are also on the program of a meeting which will bring together the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Development of the G7 countries.

Unity among group members is often difficult to find. G7 foreign ministers last met in London in May.

Britain wants to work more closely with Asian countries as part of an “Indo-Pacific tilt” after the UK left the European Union last year – both to boost UK trade and as a counterweight to Chinese domination. Truss has invited ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the Liverpool meeting, although many will join remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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