Boris Johnson plans online meeting of G7 leaders

British Prime Minister 'preparing to hold meeting next month'

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a virtual news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain January 7, 2021. Tolga Akmen/Pool via REUTERS
Powered by automated translation

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to host an online meeting of Group of Seven leaders next month as he starts his presidency of the forum at a pivotal moment for the UK and the global economy.

Sources say Mr Johnson’s proposed meeting would be in addition to the regular G7 Summit, which is expected to take place in mid-June, in person.

British officials will try to schedule next month’s online gathering for the end of February, after the inauguration of US president-elect Joe Biden.

This year’s programme of events will be a chance to revive the forum after US President Donald Trump often seemed to undermine it, most notably in Canada in 2018 when he refused to sign the communique at the end of the summit.

The 2020 G7, which the US was meant to host, did not take place at all, partly because of the pandemic but also because Mr Trump repeatedly tried to arrange it in person.

February’s virtual meeting will allow Mr Johnson to present his priorities and policy agenda for this year’s summit programme, in which he will reportedly focus on promoting democratic values through the G7.

The UK could push for a more united front on countries at odds with democratic values and human rights.

The teleconference will be mainly on the immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic crisis, one source said.

Mr Johnson’s office declined to comment.

After separating from the EU, the UK has a chance in 2021 to show what Mr Johnson means with his promise to turn the country into “global Britain".

The UK will also hold the presidency of the UN Security Council in February and is co-hosting the Cop26 global climate talks, with a summit planned for November.

“Human rights will be at the forefront of our leadership this year,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in Parliament on Tuesday.

“The UK has a crucial role to play in promoting open societies, including on human rights, but also defending public goods in areas like climate change and Covid response.”