The discussion focussed on the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The High Representative stressed that the pandemic represented a global challenge of unprecedented nature, with far-reaching consequences for the economic and geopolitical spheres, which required a global response. He underlined the importance of a strongly coordinated and multilateral approach, while stepping up international cooperation and providing humanitarian assistance to most affected countries, with a particular view to Africa. High Representative Borrell also stressed the need to ensure that citizens receive correct information related to the pandemic, that special measures are consistent with democratic values and that all countries share an interest in pushing back against disinformation and false narratives.
During the meeting, several other foreign policy and security issues were addressed, including those related to Iran, Syria, the regional situation in the Gulf and Middle East, Libya, Sahel, Afghanistan, security in the EU neighbourhood and in Asia. The importance of enhancing international cooperation in multilateral frameworks was also highlighted by the High Representative.
On Iran, the High Representative drew the attention of G7 partners to the difficult situation in the country because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the potential spill-over to neighbouring countries and the need to step up assistance to the Iranian people as a matter of priority. In this regard, he clarified that humanitarian aid and medical services are outside of the scope of sanctions. He underlined the importance of an effective response, including through unimpeded humanitarian assistance and stimulus measures in view of the dramatic impact of the outbreak on the livelihoods of ordinary Iranian people. The High Representative supports Iran´s request for aid from the IMF and the need for avoiding any punitive measures in addressing the pandemic. He also addressed the state of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). He stressed the need to preserve the deal and for full implementation of the JCPoA by all sides. He also referred to the ongoing efforts by the EU to contribute to de-escalation and pursue stability in the wider region.
On Libya, the High Representative stressed the urgency of turning the temporary cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes into a full ceasefire. He reaffirmed the EU's commitment to support the UN-led process and the implementation of the Berlin declaration and reiterated the need for all parties to respect the arms embargo. The EU is working to deploy a mission in the Central Mediterranean to ensure the respect for the UN arms embargo.
The High Representative highlighted the necessity of renewed international efforts in order to address the Syrian crisis and pave the way for a political solution. He reaffirmed the EU's focus on addressing the humanitarian situation and informed G7 partners that the EU will again organise a Brussels Conference for the Future of Syria and the region.
The High Representative/Vice-President agreed to stay in close contact with all G7 counterparts in the coming weeks and months, in order to ensure close international coordination and cooperation on all of the pressing issues.