LONDON – Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his British counterpart Dominic Raab on Monday affirmed security cooperation in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” as China steps up assertive territorial claims in the East and South China seas.
Meeting on the sidelines of a three-day gathering of Group of Seven foreign ministers in London through Wednesday, Motegi welcomed Britain’s scheduled dispatch of the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its strike group to Japan and the Indo-Pacific later in the year, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
“The deployment of the British aircraft carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific symbolizes Britain’s commitment to the region,” Motegi was quoted by the ministry as telling Raab in their first face-to-face talks since August 2020.
Motegi also hailed Britain’s pronouncement of proactive engagement in the Indo-Pacific in its integrated review of foreign and defense policy released in March.
The two ministers shared “grave concerns” about China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in regional waters such as the enforcement of a new security law allowing its coast guard ships to fire on foreign vessels in waters Beijing sees as its territory.
They also expressed serious concerns about China’s alleged human rights violation over the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang autonomous region as well as the situation in Hong Kong.
On Myanmar, Motegi and Raab condemned the security forces’ violent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators and other citizens following the Feb. 1 coup.
The ministers called for an immediate halt to violence, the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees, and the restoration of the democratically elected government.
Motegi and Raab also affirmed cooperation in curbing global warming, especially as Britain will host U.N. climate change talks in November in Glasgow.
The British foreign secretary welcomed Japan’s new target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels.
Motegi welcomed a formal request London filed in February to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, making it the first accession application by a member outside the 11-member grouping including Japan, Australia and Singapore.
The first in-person G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in two years due to the COVID-19 outbreak was focusing on ways to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific and on actions to curb the pandemic.
The gathering was also expected to showcase the unity of democratic nations in dealing with global issues, an apparent rebuke of China and Russia, which U.S. President Joe Biden has labeled as autocratic regimes.
During a working dinner that marked the beginning of the gathering, the ministers “agreed to stand firm on the goal of the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea, Motegi said at an online news conference.
Britain, which holds the rotating G7 presidency this year, is seeking to strengthen ties with countries outside the European Union in pursuit of its Global Britain initiative following its exit from what is now the 27-nation bloc.
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