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Vaccines a geopolitical pawn: UK foreign minister

Asked in a Reuters interview whether he was concerned that China and Russia could use vaccines in exchange for influence in parts of the world, he said: "there's no doubt there's some of this is going about, and we don't support vaccine diplomacy, let alone blackmail."

"We think that we've got a moral duty, but also a strong vested interest in getting the world vaccinated," he said, speaking on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Cornwall, England.

Raab said Britain's contribution would also come with no strings attached, with at least 80% being distributed by the COVAX international vaccine initiative.

He said the rest would be provided to "strategic close countries where we have a particular relationship, and no, we don't insist on conditionality."

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

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

"These activities are contrary to international law, many of them, and they're very damaging, some of them are done for pure theft, or for profit, others are done just to create havoc," he said.

"We ought to be clear as an international community that cyber attacks on hospitals, on schools, on critical national infrastructure - that's wrong. That's unjustifiable, it's beyond the pale."

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