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The Latest | Group of Seven summit turns to migration after promising tens of billions to Ukraine

AP |
Jun 14, 2024 02:45 PM IST

The Latest | Group of Seven summit turns to migration after promising tens of billions to Ukraine

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — A summit meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations is expected to focus on migration on its second day Friday, seeking ways to combat trafficking and increase investment in countries from where migrants start out on often life-threatening journeys.

The Latest | Group of Seven summit turns to migration after promising tens of billions to Ukraine
The Latest | Group of Seven summit turns to migration after promising tens of billions to Ukraine

Migration is a priority for summit host Italy and its right-wing Premier Giorgia Meloni, who's seeking to increase investment and funding for African nations as a means of reducing migratory pressure on Europe.

The gathering in a luxury resort in Italy’s southern Puglia region is also focusing on global conflicts and the spread of artificial intelligence. Perennial issues such as climate change and China also will be discussed. As the summit opened on Thursday, attendees promised tens of billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine.

But some divisions also appeared to emerge over the wording of the summit’s final declaration, with disagreement reported over the inclusion of a reference to abortion.

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

— Pope Francis, the first pontiff to address a G7 summit, will raise the alarm over AI

Here’s the latest: Biden to meet with Italian premier, Pope Francis before returning to U.S.

Borgo Egnazia, Italy — President Joe Biden will meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis on Friday before heading back to the U.S. later in the day for a Hollywood fundraiser for his presidential campaign. He will skip Saturday's summit events.

On Thursday, Biden attended four working sessions and a discussion on his investment initiative and he watched a skydiving demonstration along with the other leaders.

He also met with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy where the two signed a security agreement and held a press conference.

Biden did not attend a G7 leaders’ dinner on Thursday evening. White House aides say that he tries to meet with as many leaders and attend as many events as possible, but it doesn’t always work out and said the U.S. leader’s evening capped with the Ukraine agreement.

Switzerland is also hosting a Ukrainian peace summit this weekend, but Biden is not attending. Vice President Kamala Harris will go in his place. Moscow warns of retaliation over $50 billion loan package to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned of “retaliatory measures” over a deal by the Group of Seven industrialized nations for a $50 billion loan package for Ukraine using frozen Russian assets.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasted the deal as “criminal, cynical and another blow to international law.”

She accused the G7 as using “stolen” Russian funds to finance “the military adventures of the Kyiv regime and its patrons.”

Zakharova’s remarks where Moscow’s first reaction to the agreement Thursday when the G7agreed to lock up sanctioned Russian assets until Moscow pays reparations for invading Ukraine.

That paves the way for the announcement of the loan agreement that will leverage interest and income from the more than $260 billion in frozen Russian assets, largely held in Europe to secure the $50 billion sum.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to preview the agreement, said the first disbursements will be made this year. Biden and Zelenskyy sign security agreement at G7 summit

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a security agreement on Thursday during the Group of Seven summit, sending what they described as a message of unified opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“He cannot wait us out,” Biden said. “He cannot divide us.”

Zelenskyy said the agreement demonstrated the “credibility of American support for our Ukrainian independence.”

Ukraine has been eager for fresh assistance to hold the line against Russia, which has recently made gains on the battlefield during a bloody war that’s in its third year. Leaders of Ukraine and Japan sign 10-year agreement on security, defense, humanitarian aid

BARI, Italy — The leaders of Ukraine and Japan have signed a 10-year agreement under which Japan will provide assistance in the fields of security, defense, humanitarian aid, reconstruction and technical and financial support.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio signed the accord on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in southern Italy on Thursday.

Zelenskyy said Japan would provide $4.5 billion for Ukraine this year. A text of the deal released by the Japanese Embassy in Italy said Japan has committed and provided more than $12 billion in financial, humanitarian and other assistance since March 2022.

Under the agreement, Japan will support Ukraine with the provision of non-lethal equipment and goods, cooperate in the field of intelligence and provide support in reconstruction and recovery, as well as providing assistance in the medical and health fields, among others.

“For Japan, this type of agreement and this level of support is a breakthrough,” Zelenskyy wrote on the social media platform X. “We see this and thank Japan for its unwavering solidarity with our country and people.” Italy’s opposition calls out Meloni’s reported bid to water down reference to abortion in G7 document

BARI, Italy — Italy’s center-left opposition is crying foul over reported attempts by Premier Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government to water down a reference to abortion in the final document of the Group of Seven leaders.

The ANSA news agency, citing a draft Thursday, said there was no reference at all to abortion. That stands in contrast to the 2023 G7 summit in Hiroshima where Japan expressed a commitment to provide access to safe and legal abortion to women and girls, and pledged to defend gender equality and rights of LGBTQ people.

According to ANSA, this year’s text says the G7 “repeats our commitment expressed in the final communique of the G7 of Hiroshima for a universal, adequate and sustainable access to health services for women, including the right to reproduction.”

Meloni, who campaigned on a “God, Faith and Fatherland” motto, has denied she is rolling back abortion rights, which have been legal in Italy since 1978. But the center-left opposition has warned that her initiatives are chipping away at those rights, including by giving pro-life groups access to women considering abortions.

In a statement Thursday, the head of the Democratic Party Elly Shlein said the reported G7 text was a “national embarrassment” for putting into question a fundamental right for women.

Asked about the controversy, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said he wasn’t aware of the status of negotiations but said U.S. President Joe Biden “doesn’t change up his message based on who he’s talking to, and nothing about that will change today.”

Meloni has forged a good alliance with Pope Francis, especially on their shared opposition to surrogacy and call for Italian women to have more babies to counteract one of the world’s lowest birthrates. Francis will become the first pope to address a G7 summit when he spends the afternoon in Puglia on Friday. Official says US, Europe agree details to clear way for Ukraine loan package

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — The United States and European countries have agreed to lock up sanctioned Russian assets until Moscow pays reparations for invading Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.

The consensus clears the way for leaders to announce a $50 billion loan package for Ukraine during the Group of Seven summit that began Thursday in Italy.

The highly anticipated agreement will leverage interest and income from the more than $260 billion in frozen Russian assets, largely held in Europe, to secure a $50 billion loan from the U.S. along with additional loans from other partners.

The first disbursements will be made this year, the official said, adding that it will take time for Ukraine to use all the money.

The U.S. official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the agreement, which will be included in the G7 leaders’ statement on Friday.

President Joe Biden will meet on Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss a bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine.

— By Colleen Long, Darlene Superville and Zeke Miller 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.” 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. 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.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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