EXCLUSIVE UKs Raab: Some countries are using vaccines as a geopolitical tool

UK’s Raab: No doubt some countries are using vaccines a geopolitical tool:

EXCLUSIVE UKs Raab: Some countries are using vaccines as a geopolitical tool Photo

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Friday there was no doubt some countries were using vaccines as a diplomatic tool to secure influence but Britain did not support so-called vaccine diplomacy.

Raab was speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Cornwall, southwestern England, that was likely to be dominated by the Wests attempts to reassert its influence as the world looks to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Western diplomats fear Russia and China are using their vaccines to gain influence across the world, especially in poorer countries that do not have their own production or the means to buy shots on the international market.

Asked whether he was concerned that China and Russia could use vaccines in exchange for influence, Raab said: "Theres no doubt theres some of this is going about, and we dont support vaccine diplomacy, let alone blackmail.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expects the G7 to agree to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries during its summit, and help inoculate the world by the end of next year.

Raab said Britains contribution would come with no strings attached, with at least 80% being distributed by the COVAX international vaccine initiative. The rest would be provided to "strategic close countries where we have a particular relationship, and no, we dont insist on conditionality", he added.

Britains Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab gestures during an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, June 11, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

"But its a team effort. And we want the countries like China and Russia to come together to tackle the problems of pandemic, but also climate change, and also to respect the basic principles of international law."

China currently has two WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines, while a Russian-developed shot is waiting approval. Russia said last week it expected that approval in the next couple of months. read more

Raab also said he would be speaking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shortly, without giving a specific date. He declined to comment on issues he would raise at that meeting.

Nevertheless Raab criticised Russia as a leading protagonist of cyber attacks, calling for the G7 to take a united stand against all such incidents, whether conducted by state or non-state actors.

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