Indian delegation missing G7 meetings after 'possible' positive coronavirus cases

LONDON — The Indian delegation at the G-7 meetings in the U.K. will not be in face-to-face meetings after “exposure to possible COVID positive cases,” the Indian Foreign Minister said, although officials said the summit itself is not at risk.

“Was made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases,” Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs, posted on Twitter. “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.”

Although the Indian delegation has not yet attended the G-7 meeting of foreign ministers at Lancaster House in London, they did meet with their U.S. counterparts on Monday. It is not yet clear whether any of the attendees in that meeting had tested positive.

“The U.S. delegation was advised, including by the U.K.’s public health professionals, that our stringent masking, social distancing, and daily testing protocols would permit us to continue with our G-7 activities as planned,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “We have no reason to believe any of our delegation is at risk. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health professionals going forward and abide by the same strict COVID-19 protocols.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was pictured alongside Jaishankar on Monday, has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

PHOTO: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, attends a press conference with India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar following a bilateral meeting in London, May 3, 2021.

Other delegates will not be asked to self-isolate as officials said that strict social distancing was observed.

Attendees to the summit are tested daily, although at the Monday meeting between Blinken and Jaishankar, delegates did take off their masks while divided by sheets of plexiglass. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 would be required to self-isolate in line with U.K. government guidelines.

“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 senior U.K. diplomat said.

While not formally a member of the G-7, India was invited to attend a series of meetings between the foreign ministers of G-7 countries in London this week.

A dozen countries have delegations at this week’s meetings ahead of the G-7, which President Joe Biden hopes to attend with other world leaders, in the U.K. in June. The withdrawal from face-to-face meetings will be a serious blow to the proceedings, which promised to be the first in-person G-7 meetings in two years.

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