The Latest: Italy hosts the Group of Seven summit with global conflicts on the agenda

Jun 13, 2024

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy (AP) — 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, with a view in particular to Italy’s longstanding concern about uncontrolled migration to Europe and human traffickers. 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.


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Here’s the latest:

Opinions differ about including abortion rights, other issues in final G7 statement

BARI, Italy – Abortion rights are among a number of issues about which opinions vary on whether to include them 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,” and 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.

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