PREVIEW - Blinken To Attend G7 In UK Before Traveling To Ukraine

PREVIEW - Blinken to Attend G7 in UK before Traveling to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 03rd May, 2021) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins on Monday his overseas trip to discuss competition with China and post-pandemic recovery at the G7 ministerial in the United Kingdom, before visiting Ukraine where he will press for reforms and reaffirm American support for the country amid its tensions with Russia.

On May 3-5, Blinken attends the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting and holds a series of bilateral engagements in London. He travels to Kiev on May 5-6.

"On the agenda. It will be filled with weighty issues, including COVID-19, economic recovery and growth, the climate crisis, human rights, food security, gender equality and more. The list of challenges is long, but our partnership is deep and strong to tackle these challenges," senior State Department official Erica Barks-Ruggles told reporters about the G7 leg of the trip.

G7 events include a separate session on China - to discuss, according to Barks-Ruggles, "how we can work closely with our allies and partners to address our collective challenges from a position of strength." Another ministers' task is to lay the groundwork for the G7 summit in Cornwall, UK, in June.

Blinken plans to meet with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. His other bilaterals include talks with counterparts from Japan, South Korea, South Africa and Brunei. Blinken may raise the issue of Nord Stream 2, a gas-exporting undersea pipeline built by Russia, during his possible meeting with Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

"I think we will meet separately with the Germans in the bilat format. Nord Stream 2 remains an issue. You heard that from the President, from the Secretary, from the spokesman. And we will continue to make very clear to the Germans our views of that project, that it should stop," Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker told reporters.

He mentioned Russia among "shared challenges" to be discussed in London.

In Kiev Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, local lawmakers and representatives of the civil society.

The Secretary will reaffirm "unwavering US support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression." The visit comes after Russia began pulling it troops back from Ukraine's borders after a massive buildup that scared Kiev and its Western patrons.

Blinken will also encourage "continued progress on Ukraine's institutional reform agenda, particularly anti-corruption action," according to the State Department.

The US described reforms as key to "securing Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic future."

The United States has recently lashed out at Ukraine for the management reshuffle in Naftogaz, the country's major energy company. Reeker said the issue will be raised again by Blinken who will call for the respect for good, transparent corporate governance especially in the state-run entities.