India's foreign minister pulls out of G7 meeting over COVID risk

India delegation isolating

India’s foreign minister pulled out of in-person meetings at a Group of Seven gathering in London on Wednesday and was self-isolating after members of his country's delegation tested positive for the coronavirus. Talks centred on ways to ensure global access to COVID-19 vaccines and curb a virus that is still ravaging many parts of the world, including India.

Diplomats from the G7 group of wealthy nations are holding their first face-to-face gathering in two years, with social distancing and other measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted that he was “made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases. As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode.”

British media reported that two members of the Indian delegation had tested positive. Britain’s Foreign Office, which organized the meeting, did not confirm how many people tested positive or who they were. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “the individuals concerned are all isolating now.”

Delegates attending the event at Lancaster House in London have been observing social distancing and are separated by transparent screens in meetings, and are tested daily for the virus.

India is not a G7 member but was invited along with South Korea, Australia and South Africa as a guest for the second day of the meeting on Wednesday.

The guest nations' delegations didn't attend the conference on Tuesday, though Jaishankar has held meetings in London with officials including British Home Secretary Priti Patel and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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