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

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

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Pope Francis attends a working session on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy, Africa-Mediterranean, on day two of the 50th G7 summit at Borgo Egnazia, southern Italy, on Friday, June 14, 2024. (Christopher Furlong/Pool Photo via AP)

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy (AP) — 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.

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

— G7 leaders tackle migration and Artificial Intelligence in the second day of their summit

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:

BARI, Italy — Leaders from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations say they’ll launch an action plan on the use of Artificial Intelligence in the workforce to help increase productivity, create “quality jobs and decent work” and to empower workers.

The G7 leaders said in a draft statement seen by the Associated Press that they will ask their labor ministers to develop the plan fully leveraging the potential of AI “to enable decent work and worker’s rights and full access to adequate reskilling and upskilling” while addressing “potential challenges and risks” to labour markets.

The draft, which will be released at the conclusion of the three-day summit, said the G7 encourage “adherence to international workers’ rights and labour standards at each stage of the AI supply chain.”

The leaders said they’ll work with developing countries and emerging communities to close digital divides including the gender digital divide and achieving digital inclusion. They also welcomed Italy’s decision to establish the AI Hub for Sustainable Development.

BARI, Italy — G7 leaders say they will launch a “coalition” designed to counter migrant smuggling by boosting the investigative capacities of countries of origin, transit and destination.

In a draft statement seen by the Associated Press, G7 leaders say they will work to improve “reliable data exchanges” between countries that are crucial for joint enforcement actions against smuggling and trafficking networks.

The draft said the G7 will utilize a “follow the money” approach to identify, investigate and disrupt organize crime while enhancing cooperation on seizing criminal assets.

According to the draft statement set to be released at Saturday’s conclusion of the summit, these steps are part of a three-pronged approach to tackling migration.

That approach includes getting to the root causes of irregular migration and remedying them through “sustainable development initiatives, economic investment and stabilization efforts.”

The G7 will also work to “support the safe and dignified return of persons not eligible to remain” in third countries as well as to support “sustainable reintegration efforts in countries of origin.”

The G7 will also foster regular pathways to migration that “need to respond to national requirements, adhere to our legislations, sovereign decisions, and to the principles of fair recruitment. At the same time, initiatives establishing these pathways should take into account the “needs of vulnerable populations and employ gender and age-sensitive approaches” to prevent abuse and exploitation.

BARI, Italy — A draft statement says the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations will set up by the end of the year a framework designed to counter “foreign threats to democracies, including publicly exposing foreign operations of information manipulation.”

The draft statement seen by the Associated Press says G7 leaders are “more concerned than ever” about Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) in democratic institutions and processes in light of the rapid evolution of emerging technology.

That concern extends to “how attempted interference campaigns, malicious cyber activities and transnational repression collectively undermine sovereignty and democratic values.

According to the draft, which will be released at the end of the summit, the leaders pledge to strengthen efforts to “better prevent, detect and respond to FIMI threats through human rights-respecting practices and by supporting freedom of expression and free, independent and pluralistic media.”

The leaders also call on tech companies and social media platforms to step up efforts preventing and countering FIMI campaigns “and the potential abuse of AI for this purpose.”

BARI, Italy — The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations are expressing concern over what they said were China’s unfair business practices, according to a draft of a statement to be issued at the end of a summit being held in southern Italy.

The G7 said they “recognize the importance of China in global trade” and said they were committed to “advancing free and fair trade, a level playing field, and balanced economic relations,” according to a draft of the final statement seen by the Associated Press.

“We are not trying to harm China or thwart its economic development,” the statement said.

But the seven nations expressed concern “about China’s persistent industrial targeting and comprehensive non-market policies and practices that are leading to global spillovers, market distortions and harmful overcapacity in a growing range of sectors.”

The seven called on China to “refrain from adopting export control measures, particularly on critical minerals, that could lead to significant global supply chain disruptions.” They also expressed “deep concern” over Beijing’s support to Russia, and called on China to press Moscow to halt its war in Ukraine.

BORGO EGNAZI, Italy — President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders are discussing additional steps to address policies from China that they say affect the global economy.

In May, Biden announced higher tariffs on critical manufacturing and mining sectors, including steel and aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries, solar cells and certain critical minerals in an effort to counter over-manufacturing by China.

A senior Biden administration official says the U.S. president and the leaders of Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Japan and Canada discussed the issue Friday during a private session at the annual Group of Seven summit, being held in southern Italy.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says concerns about China’s practices aren’t just for the U.S. The official says China’s practices are affecting partners around the world, from advanced economies to developing countries and emerging markets.

By Darlene Superville

BARI, Italy — A draft statement says the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations are warning Iran to halt its uranium enrichment activities “that have no credible civilian justification.”

According to the draft seen Friday by the Associated Press, which will be issued at the end of the summit, the G7 “reiterate our determination that (Iran) must never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.”

The G7 leaders also said they were prepared to “respond in a swift and coordinated matter, including with new and significant measures” if Tehran transferred ballistic missiles and related technology to Russia.

Doing so “would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security,” the draft communique said.

The statement also said the G7 were prepared to adopt further sanctions if Iran did not “cease its malicious activities and destabilizing actions in the Middle East,” while also expressing “deep concern” over Iran’s human rights violations, particularly against women, girls and minorities.

“We call on Iran’s leadership to end all unjust and arbitrary detentions, including of dual and foreign citizens, and condemn the unacceptable harassment of its citizens,” the draft said.

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — U.S. President Joe Biden and Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni have agreed to “pursue all available options to impose further costs on Russia and those who support Russia’s war machine.”

In a statement after the two leaders’ meeting Friday, Bush and Meloni welcomed the Group of Seven leaders’ agreement to provide Ukraine with a $50 billion loan using proceeds from frozen Russian assets.

They also discussed ways of boosting economic security and their response to “economic coercion” while underscoring two-way trade and investment.

The leaders highlighted the urgent need to secure a deal returning Israeli hostages and implementing a ceasefire in Gaza while emphasizing the “importance of Hamas taking a constructive approach to that process.”

The statement made no reference to the two leaders discussing abortion rights after an EU official confirmed there would be no mention of abortion in the final G7 statement at the behest of the Italian government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced the freezing of Russian assets by the West as “theft” and vowed that it “will not go unpunished.”

Putin’s remarks at the Russian Foreign Ministry Friday came on the heels of a deal by the Group of Seven industrialized nations for a $50 billion loan package for Ukraine using frozen Russian assets.

Putin accused Western countries of “now thinking about some kind of legal basis in order to completely appropriate” frozen assets and foreign exchange reserves. The Russian president said ”despite all the scheming, theft will remain theft, and it will not go unpunished.”

He added that the move made it “obvious to all countries and companies, sovereign funds that their assets and reserves are far from safe” in the West.

The G7 agreed on Thursday 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.

BARI, Italy — A senior EU official has confirmed that the word “abortion” will not be in the final communique of the Group of Seven leaders.

It was removed after host Italy lobbied to remove it. Abortion, which has been legal in Italy since 1978, is new on the political agenda of far-right Premier Giorgia Meloni’s government.

The final communique does contain reference to promoting sexual and reproductive health rights. The EU official says: “It was not possible to reach agreement on these things in the room.”

The text does make reference to the final communique of the last G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, which included a lengthy section on abortion, gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights, but doesn’t repeat it.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “it’s true, the text is not reflecting what was agreed in Hiroshima.”

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.

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.”

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

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.”