US secretary of state and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to hold in-person talks

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will hold face-to-face talks on trade, Iran and China with Joe Biden’s secretary of state ahead of discussions between G7 foreign ministers in the UK.

Antony Blinken will be in London for talks on Monday as the US and Britain forge a fresh relationship following the departure of Donald Trump from the White House.

The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and a post-Brexit trade deal are likely to feature, as is Iran, where the nuclear deal is a key issue and so too are citizens being detained there, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The first in-person meeting of G7 foreign ministers will then begin on Tuesday, with allies including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU attending.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ahead of the meeting, the Foreign Office said the G7 ministers will invest 15 billion US dollars (£10.9 billion) in development finance over the next two years to help women in developing countries access jobs, build resilient businesses and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

They are also expected to sign up to new targets to get 40 million more girls into school, and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in poorer nations by 2026.

But the commitments come as Mr Raab faces sustained criticism for cuts to foreign aid, from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%, citing the financial impact of the pandemic.

The cuts to overseas aid spending have been described as “devastating” for women and girls around the world.

Regular testing, size limits and other measures have been pledged to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the discussions.

Mr Raab on Sunday defended the cut to foreign aid spending as “necessary” due to the “seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy”.

On Saturday, it emerged Unicef will have its UK funding cut by about 60%.

The United Nations agency warned that the world’s most vulnerable children will “suffer the consequences” of the Government’s move.

A leaked memo also suggested that the UK will slash bilateral funding for overseas water, sanitation and hygiene projects by more than 80% – a move WaterAid described as “savage”.

And a report by media outlet Devex said ministers are planning to reduce funding for polio eradication by 95%.

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