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G20 Foreign Ministers Meet Face-to-Face After Pandemic By Reuters

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© Reuters. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio as he arrives for a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Matera, Italy on June 29, 2021 Andrew Harnik / Pool via REUTERS

By Crispian Balmer

MATERA, Italy (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 major economies met face-to-face on Tuesday for the first time in two years, with host Italy to push for multilateral cures for global crises like the pandemic. COVID-19.

The one-day meeting in the heat-soaked southern city of Matera will include a discussion on how to improve cooperation on a variety of topics including global health, the climate emergency and international trade.

“The pandemic has highlighted the need for an international response to emergencies that transcend national borders,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told the meeting.

Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20, has said that particular attention will be paid to Africa, with an emphasis on sustainable development.

G20 members represent more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of world trade, and 60% of the planet’s population. Those in Matera included top diplomats from the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, and India.

The foreign ministers of China, Brazil and Australia chose to follow the discussions by video link, and Russia and South Korea sent vice ministers.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it would increase his dissatisfaction with the way he thought China and Russia had offered their vaccines to improve their position in certain countries.

“(This) is not about achieving short-term geostrategic advantages,” he said before the meeting.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the importance of getting vaccines to poorer countries that might otherwise struggle to get doses.

“To end the pandemic, we must get more vaccines to more places,” he said.

He said the health crisis had worsened economic inequality around the world and that the G20 would continue to help low-income countries address “their significant debt vulnerabilities.”

Italy, which is home to the UN’s food and agriculture agencies, has invited development ministers and wants to bring global food security and nutrition to the fore.

Given the wide range of countries in the G20, reaching an agreement can be difficult, but analysts said that the fact that ministers had resumed meetings in person and joined the clamor for more cooperation was important.

“It is difficult to expect concrete results from Matera,” said Antonio Villafranca, director of studies at the Institute for International Policy Studies.

“But reaffirming commitment and multilateral understanding on those issues on which states could converge, in a climate of growing international tensions, would already be a result that should not be underestimated.”

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