Indian Foreign Minister Opts Out of In-Person G-7 Summit Over CCP Virus Concern

May 5, 2021 Updated: May 5, 2021

India’s foreign minister has been forced to pull out of the face-to-face Group of Seven meetings in London after two members of his delegation tested positive for the CCP virus.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Wednesday he will have to join the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting online instead of in person.

“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. That will be the case with the G-7 Meeting today as well,” he wrote on Twitter.

India is not a G-7 member but was invited to the summit along with Australia, South Africa, and South Korea.

The British government said two Indian delegates tested positive and therefore the entire delegation is self-isolating.

A senior UK diplomat said: “We deeply regret that Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person and will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict COVID protocols and daily testing.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “we are all having to adapt in agile ways” as he welcomed Jaishankar to the meeting appearing via video link.

This is the first face-to-face meeting of G-7 foreign ministers for more than two years.

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour party, questioned the government’s decision to hold the meeting in person rather than virtually.

“I do think we need to ask questions about how this happened, if only to make sure it is not repeated,” he said. “It is a reminder of how vigilant we need to be about our borders—we’ve been challenging government on this for some months.”

Asked if it was a mistake to hold the meeting in person, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters: “I think it’s very important to try to continue as much business as you can as a Government.

“I will be seeing the Indian foreign minister later this afternoon and that will be a Zoom exchange, I’m given to understand.”

There are strict COVID-19 security measures in place at Lancaster House, the summit venue.

Home Secretary Priti Patel met the Indian foreign minister on Tuesday, but she has not been told to self-isolate.

PA and Reuters contributed to this report.