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G-7 Leaders Pledge More than 1 Billion COVID Vaccine Doses to Poorer Nations 

US President Joe Biden takes part in a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit at Cornwall Airport Newquay, near Newquay, Cornwall on June 13, 2021. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

G-7 leaders have wrapped up their summit in Carbis Bay, England, pledging more than one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer nations and calling out China on several issues.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the doses would come both directly and through COVAX, the U.N.-backed program delivering vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

A communique issued at the end of the summit said G-7 leaders “will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration," the G-7 said.

Beijing is accused of committing serious human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang as well as committing abuses in Hong Kong.

For years, Beijing has come under strong international criticism from the West and many Muslims for its treatment of Uyghurs, which includes widespread government surveillance and abuses including forced birth control. Human rights groups say China has sent more than a million Uyghurs to detention camps. China says the compounds are "vocational education centers" intended to stop the spread of religious extremism and terrorist attacks.

Additionally, Beijing has urged the West to stop interfering in what it terms the internal affairs of Hong Kong. A national security law took effect in Hong Kong in June 2020 following pro-democracy protests in 2019.

G-7 leaders also called for more investigations regarding the origins of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

"We also call for a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China," the G-7 said.

Some information in this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.