India foreign minister self-isolating after Covid scare at UK’s in-person G-7 summit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a press conference with India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar following a bilateral meeting in London on May 3, 2021, during the G7 foreign ministers meeting.

BEN STANSALL | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — India’s foreign minister on Wednesday said he had been made aware of positive Covid cases among the country’s delegation to the G-7 summit in the U.K., prompting his entire team to self-isolate.

Britain is hosting the three-day meeting in the capital city of London, seeking to restart face-to-face diplomacy and discuss the most pressing geopolitical challenges with the world’s most industrialized countries. It is the first gathering of the group’s foreign ministers since 2019.

India, the current epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, is not in the G-7 nations but delegates from the country were invited as guests to try to deepen ties with the Indo-Pacific region.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said via Twitter on Wednesday 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. That will be the case with the G7 Meeting today as well,” he said.

India’s foreign minister met in person with U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday.

Patel had said it was a “pleasure to welcome” Jaishankar as new trade investment deals were signed with India, while Blinken said the pair had discussed their “joint efforts to combat COVID-19 and to advance our broader comprehensive global strategic partnership.”

A senior U.K. diplomat told CNBC: “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.”

A British official confirmed to Reuters that two positive Covid tests were returned among India’s delegation and said the entire team was now self-isolating. U.K. rules require a 10-day self-isolation period.

The G-7 is comprised of the U.K., U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The EU participates in all discussions as a guest.

The three-day meeting in London is a precursor to a G-7 summit in Cornwall, U.K. in early June, which will be attended by G-7 leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden who will make his first scheduled trip abroad since taking office.

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