Politics & News

G7 Summit: Ukraine, China, Mideast Top the Agenda

Leaders representing Group of Seven (G7) have started Thursday their annual summit in Italy, with a special focus on supporting Ukraine, confronting China and ending the war in Gaza.

The summit, held on June 13-15, 2024, will discuss several issues, including climate change and development in Africa, the Middle East crisis, the Ukraine war, migration and artificial intelligence.

The big event gathers the G7 leaders, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission representing the European Union. Additionally, representatives of a number of invited States and International Organizations will attend.

Wide Participation

The G7 summit will feature the attendance of world leaders. Pope Francis will be the first pope to address a G7 summit. On Friday, he will deliver a speech on the benefits and perils of artificial intelligence. He is also expected to reiterate his calls for a peaceful end to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Italy, as the country holding G7 Presidency, has invited several African leaders, including Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Kenyan President William Ruto and Tunisian President Kais Saied, to advance Italy’s Africa initiatives.

It has also invited Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the summit for the second year in a row.

Plans for Ukraine

The G7 summit is likely to open with an agreement on a US proposal to support Ukraine with a $50bn loan using interest from the roughly $260 billion in frozen Russian central bank assets, most of them held in the European Union, to back the multi-year debt package, reported the Associated Press (AP).

Diplomats confirmed that leaders had reached the agreement before they arrived in Italy. A French official told reporters on Wednesday that the leaders had reached a political decision but they still had to work out the technical and legal details of the mechanism of gaining access to the assets.

G7 Summit: Ukraine, China, Mideast Top the Agenda
G7 Summit

Moreover, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is expected to sign a separate bilateral security agreement with the US President, Joe Biden. In a strong show of support to Ukraine, the US on the summit’s eve widened sanctions against Russia by targeting Chinese companies that help Moscow’s war machine.

Confronting China

By imposing sanctions on Chinese companies on the summit’s eve, Biden may be hoping that this will persuade Western allies to show greater resolve in confronting Beijing over its support for Russia and its industrial over-capacity. On Wednesday, the European Commission told car makers it would impose extra duties of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese electric cars from July.

While G7 leaders are likely to express their concern over China’s high production levels, EU diplomats warn that Europe is keen to avoid a full-scale trade war with China, according to Reuters.

Internal Challenges

Several Western leaders are facing domestic challenges. Biden, who faces re-election next November, arrived in Italy a day after his son, Hunter, was convicted of lying about his drug use on a gun application form.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is likely to lose power in the July 4 election. The French and German leaders have just suffered election defeats in the European Parliament elections, while opinion polls indicate a decline in the approval of the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.

Italian Victory

Only the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, goes into the summit with a triumph at home and abroad after her party had shown a strong performance in the EU election. Therefore, Italy has now become the most stable power in the EU.

G7 Summit: Ukraine, China, Mideast Top the Agenda
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

According to analysts, this means that Meloni could be able to lead the summit in the direction of her key priorities. In this regard, Nick O’Connell, deputy director of the Atlantic Council, told AP: “While it’s unlikely the recent results will radically shift the focus of the upcoming G7 Summit, this electoral win offers Premier Meloni additional leverage to frame this as an essentially ‘Mediterranean Summit’.”

This includes advancing her migration agenda as Meloni tries to leverage her program for a non-exploitative relationship with Africa to boost development while curbing illegal migration to Europe.

For this purpose, Italy has been promoting its Mattei Plan to discourage young Africans from migrating to Europe. The Plan aims to create jobs and opportunity in Africa, through pilot projects in sectors such as education, health care, water, sanitation, agriculture and energy infrastructure.

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