Sat, Jul 13, 2024
Italy hosts the Group of Seven summit with global conflicts on the agenda
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Italy hosts the Group of Seven summit with global conflicts on the agenda

  • PublishedJune 13, 2024



BORGO EGNAZIA – Italy is hosting the summit of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in the wake of the European Parliament election, which saw a surge in support for the far right in places like G7 members France and Germany.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni also leads a far-right party but continues to hew to the center, particularly on foreign policy, which has made her a reassuring transatlantic partner amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The G7 summit through Saturday is focusing on global conflicts, the spread of artificial intelligence and on Africa issues, particularly Italy’s longstanding concern about uncontrolled migration to Europe from the continent. Perennial issues such as climate change and China also will be discussed.

The G7 is an informal forum with an annual summit to discuss economic policy and security issues. The members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Currently:

— Italian Premier Meloni opens G7 summit with agreement to back a $50 billion loan to Ukraine

In Italy’s Puglia region, women take the lead in challenging the local mafia at great personal risk

US pushes for Ukraine aid, united front against China’s trade practices at G7 finance meeting

Here’s the latest:

Britain announces new sanctions aimed at degrading Russia’s ability to wage war in Ukraine

LONDON — Britain has announced new sanctions designed to degrade Russia’s ability to wage war in Ukraine, targeting entities based in China, Israel, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, as well as the Russian energy industry.

The sanctions announced at the start of Thursday’s G7 summit apply to 50 companies and individuals involved in supplying munitions, machine tools, microelectronics, and logistics to the Russian military, together with ships transporting military goods from North Korea to Russia.

Britain also said it was targeting the “shadow fleet” of ships used to circumvent G7 sanctions on the Russia oil and natural gas industry. The U.K. Foreign Office said this is particularly important because taxes on oil production accounted for 31% of the Russian government’s revenue last year.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement that the U.K. “will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in its fight for freedom.’’

Sunak added that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must lose, and cutting off his ability to fund a prolonged conflict is absolutely vital.”

EU Council chief says summit will tackle Ukraine, the Middle East, migration and Africa

BARI, Italy — European Council President Charles Michel says the Group of Seven summit would focus on four major challenges including financial support for Ukraine, the war in the Middle East, migration, and relations with Africa.

On Ukraine, Michel said at Thursday’s start of the Group of Seven summit that “we want to make decisions to provide more immediate financial support for Ukraine so that they can defend themselves.”

The G7 meeting opened with an agreement on a US proposal to back a $50 billion loan to Ukraine with frozen Russian assets.

Speaking of the ongoing war in Gaza, Michel said the main goals were an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, humanitarian access to Gaza and relaunching “a political track for making possible the two-state solution as soon as possible.”

Despite mounting international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear he opposes the creation of a Palestinian state in any postwar scenario.

On migration, Michel said the focus was to create a “coalition to fight against the smugglers, the criminal groups” which were abusing vulnerable people “to make money and to destabilize regions and countries across the world.”

Michel said African countries were tackling both poverty and the consequences of climate change and need access to capital, adding that building partnerships must be “based on trust, based on respect, based on mutual confidence.”

Italy joins rail corridor project to connect southern and central Africa

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — U.S. officials say that Italy is joining a rail corridor project in Africa as part of a collaborative effort by the Group of Seven nations to fund infrastructure projects.

The Lobito corridor is a railway line that will connect southern and central Africa. Not just railway, the project will also bring telecommunication cables and other infrastructure to the region.

It’s projected eventually to go from Angola to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The investment project is meant to serve as an alternative to China’s development efforts, which the U.S. and its allies say China uses to exert influence on developing nations.

Pope Francis to meet with world leaders on sidelines of G7 summit

BARI, Italy — Pope Francis will be meeting a series of world leaders on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in southern Italy.

Francis, who will be the first pope to address a G7 summit, will kick off his bilateral talks shortly after arriving at the summit location. He will meet Friday with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva.

The pope has previously met with Zelenskyy but caused a stir earlier this year when he said that Ukraine should have the “courage of the white flag” to negotiate an end of the war with Russia. Kyiv summoned the Holy See ambassador to complain.

After delivering a speech at the G7 summit, the pope will continue his meetings with Kenyan President William Ruto, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Italian premier says Puglia region was chosen for summit to strengthen dialogue with global south

BARI, Italy — Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni says the location of the Group of Seven summit in southern Italy’s Puglia region was chosen to send a message that the seven leading democracies want to “strengthen (their) dialogue with the nations of the global south.”

In welcoming remarks at Thursday’s start of the summit, Meloni said the meeting’s agenda was wide-ranging, tackling topics including conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East, creating “solid and controllable supply chains,” and the advent of artificial intelligence. The meeting will also focus on Africa and migration.

Meloni said the G7 was “not a fortress closed in itself” but rather “an offer of values that we open to the world.”

The Italian premier called the region of Puglia “historically a bridge between West and East,” while the summit logo, a stylized depiction of an olive tree with roots and seven olives, depicts the collaboration of nations to tackle global challenges.

Opinions differ on abortion rights, other issues in final G7 statement

BARI, Italy – Abortion rights are among a number of issues that leaders are disagreeing on whether to include in the Group of Seven summit’s final statement.

Italian Deputy Premier Antonio Tajani on Thursday rejected reports that Italy had sought to remove a reference relating to abortion, saying the issue was still being discussed.

Summit host Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right party was buoyed by a strong showing in weekend European Parliament elections, has insisted she won’t roll back a 1978 law allowing abortion in Italy. But she has also prioritized encouraging women to have children to reverse Italy’s demographic crisis.

A French official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the French president’s office customary practices, said there were diverging views with Italian negotiators on some topics.

The official spoke of “debates on sexual and reproductive health and on the issue of vaccines, which were not taken into account as much as we would have liked by the Italian Presidency.” But the official praised the overall result of the G7 negotiations as “very good.”

An Italian official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with Italian policy, said that “no state has asked to eliminate the reference to issues relating to abortion from the draft conclusions of the G7 summit.” The official noted that “the negotiation dynamics are still ongoing.”

Italy’s Meloni greets arriving G7 leaders at summit dominated by aid pledges to Ukraine

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni is greeting leaders of the Group of Seven as they arrive for a summit dominated by pledges of new assistance to help Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Standing in front of one of Puglia’s famed olive trees and under a canopy to guard against the sun, Meloni welcomed first British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and then German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Ahead of the summit, negotiators reached a deal to back a $50 billion loan to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets held in the European Union as collateral.

The venue for the summit is Borgo Egnazai, a new luxury resort built to look like one of Puglia’s medieval white-washed towns, complete with narrow streets, villas and a central piazza.

G7 leaders agree to lend Ukraine $50 billion using frozen Russian assets as collateral

BARI, Italy — Officials say the world’s seven wealthiest democracies have agreed on lending Ukraine up to $50 billion using frozen Russian assets as collateral.

Diplomats confirmed the agreement, which was struck before Thursday’s start of the three-day G7 summit that brings together Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will also sign a bilateral security agreement during the summit.

European officials have resisted confiscating the assets, citing legal and financial stability concerns. But the plan would use the interest earned on the assets to help Ukraine’s war effort.

The U.S. proposal involves using profits from the roughly $260 billion in frozen Russian central bank assets, most of them held in the European Union, to help Ukraine.

The U.S. would issue Ukraine the $50 billion loan using windfall profits from the immobilized funds as collateral.

United Kingdom pledges $310 million in nonmilitary aid to Ukraine

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is announcing up to 242 million pounds (286 million euros or $310 million) in nonmilitary aid to Ukraine as Group of Seven leaders gather for a summit overshadowed by war.

Sunak is taking time out from the U.K. election campaign to attend Thursday’s gathering in southern Italy.

The U.K. government says the money will go towards “immediate humanitarian, energy and stabilization needs” in Ukraine. Sunak has also thrown his support behind a plan to use interest from seized Russian assets to help Ukraine rebuild.

Sunak said the war is at a “critical moment” and Ukraine’s allies “must move from ‘as long as it takes’ to ‘whatever it takes’ if we are to end this illegal war.”

The U.K. has pledged 12.5 billion pounds to Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. That includes 7.6 billion pounds worth of military assistance.

Sunak is battling to keep his job after the U.K. election on July 4, with opinion polls putting his Conservatives far behind the opposition Labour Party. Labour leader Keir Starmer says he will keep up the United Kingdom’s strong support for Ukraine if he becomes prime minister.

Town hosting G7 summit also a faux medieval venue for Hollywood elite

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — Madonna and the Beckhams have reportedly stayed there, and Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake got married there.

Borgo Egnazia in Italy’s southern Puglia region has certainly had its share of star power and on Thursday hosts another set of VIP guests: the leaders of the world’s industrialized democracies.

But the venue for the Group of Seven summit is also something of a theater set, a faux town made to resemble one of Puglia’s medieval white-washed hamlets but that actually only dates from 2010.

Located next to an actual archaeological park, Borgo Egnazia features narrow streets, villas, restaurants and a town square complete with a clocktower.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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