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UK invites PM Narendra Modi to attend G7 summit; An opportunity to meet Joe Biden

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NEW DELHI: The UK on Sunday formally invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the G-7 summit, which is scheduled to be held from June 11 to 13 in Britain’s Cornwall region. The high-profile meet will offer Modi and Joe Biden, who will take oath as the US President on Wednesday, an opportunity to hold a dialogue.

PM Modi had attended the last G-7 summit in France in 2019. This time, Australia and South Korea have also been invited as guest countries by the Boris Johnson government. India, Australia and South Korea were invited by the outgoing US President Donald Trump too, but the summit couldn’t be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump had also toyed with the idea of inviting Russia to revive the G-8 format.

In the wake of the pact between EU and China, which hasn’t been invited to the summit again, reaction of some European Union countries, especially Germany and Italy, will be under lens. Last year, when China wasn’t invited by the US, some of the G-7 members from Europe expressed reservations. In fact, Germany harped on G-20 (that includes China). Later, Germany announced its Indo-Pacific strategy and included India as a key element in that. Italy had advocated an inclusive multilateralism rather than an exclusive club.

Italy, for the past few years, has been advocating the return of Russia to make it G-8. Moscow had last year sent medical supplies to Rome to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Italy is also trying to balance its ties with the US and China. Italy and India recently held a virtual summit where over a dozen pacts were signed.

After the formal announcement on G-7 summit guests, it remains to be seen how some of the member states will react to China’s absence. The summit, however, will be an opportunity for Biden to engage with world leaders and push his plan of strengthening the US’ transatlantic partnership with Europe.

Johnson may use the first in-person G-7 summit in almost two years to ask leaders, including Modi, to “seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener and more prosperous”, according to the British government statement.

Prime Ministers and Presidents from the world’s leading democracies will come together in the UK in June to address shared challenges, from beating coronavirus and tackling climate change, to ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change and scientific discovery, the statement said, adding, “The Prime Minister’s ambition is to use the G7 to intensify cooperation between the world’s democratic and technologically advanced nations. Between them the 10 leaders represent over 60% of the people living in democracies around the world.”

As ‘pharmacy of the world’, India already supplies more than 50% of the world’s vaccines, and the UK and India have worked closely together throughout the pandemic. Johnson who skipped Republic Day invite due to pandemic in UK has said he will visit India ahead of the G7.

It may be recalled that the UK was the first G7 member to invite India to a G7 Summit in 2005.

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