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G7 leaders gather in Italy for talks dominated by Ukraine

Published : Wednesday, 12 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 89

G7 leaders gather in Italy for talks dominated by Ukraine

G7 leaders gather in Italy for talks dominated by Ukraine

ROME, June 11: Leaders of the G7 wealthy nations gather in southern Italy this week against the backdrop of global and political turmoil, with boosting support for Ukraine top of the agenda.

US President Joe Biden, Frances Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are among the Group of Seven leaders heading to the luxury resort of Borgo Egnazia in Puglia for the June 13-15 summit.

It comes at a sensitive time, with wars raging in Ukraine and Gaza and  with Biden, Macron and Britains Rishi Sunak all facing elections in the coming weeks and months.

With an eye to the global challenges, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the host, has also invited around a dozen non-G7 heads of government, from Turkeys Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Indias Narendra Modi.

Pope Francis will also fly in on Friday to talk about artificial intelligence.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend a discussion Thursday on Russias war on his country, now into its third year, where he will again press for more help from Western allies.

G7 leaders hope to agree a deal on using the profits from the interest on 300 billion euros ($325 billion) of frozen Russian central bank assets to help Kyiv.

The idea is to use the profits as collateral for a loan of up to $50 billion, but there is still debate over who would issue the debt as well as a raft of technical issues -- including what would happen if the assets were unfrozen in the event of peace.

John Kirton, director of the University of Torontos G7 Research Group, said he expected an agreement.

"This issue has been the signature test of the summits performance on Russias aggression against Ukraine, so the G7 leaders will not do too little here," he told AFP.

The leaders are also expected to discuss their concerns over Chinas support for Russias military expansion.

While the summit is officially three days, the sessions end on Friday, with Zelensky and some other leaders heading Saturday to a conference on Ukraine in Switzerland.

Biden will not attend, instead sending Vice President Kamala Harris.

The summit of G7 leaders -- including Germanys Olaf Scholz and Canadas Justin Trudeau -- comes at a "particularly difficult moment on the international stage", an Italian government source said.    —AFP

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