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G7 summit opens with deal to use Russian assets for Ukraine as traditional EU powers recalibrate

G7 summit opens with deal to use Russian assets for Ukraine as traditional EU powers recalibrate
G7 summit opens with deal to use Russian assets for Ukraine as traditional EU powers recalibrate

 


BARI A Group of Seven summit opens Thursday with agreement on a US proposal to support a $50 billion loan to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets as collateral, giving Kiev a strong show of support even as the European political spectrum shifts to the right.

Diplomats confirmed that agreement had been reached on the deal even before the leaders landed in southern Italy for the three-day summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend and is expected to sign a separate bilateral security agreement with US President Joe Biden.

Beyond the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis will become the first pope to address a G7 summit, adding a touch of celebrity and moral authority to the annual gathering being held this year in Italy's sunny Puglia region. I will speak on Friday promises and perils of artificial intelligencebut he should also renew his call for a peaceful end to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Host Italy invited several Algerian African leaders President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Kenyan President William Ruto and Tunisian President Kais Saied to promote Italian initiatives in favor of Africa. Other guests include Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da Silvathe newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

With Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and now French President Emmanuel Macron facing elections in the coming months, the pressure was on the G7 to do what it can while the status quo lasts. what.

Russian assets frozen to support Ukraine

The American proposal involves using the profits from the approx. 260 billion dollars in frozen assets of the Russian central bank, most of them are held in the European Union, to help Ukraine, and the provision of a $50 billion loan from the US government to kyiv, using windfall profits from the immobilized funds as collateral.

A French official, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said a political decision had been made by leaders, but that technical and legal details The mechanism for exploiting these assets remains to be developed. The issue is complicated because if Russian assets are ever thawed, for example if the war ends, the windfall profits can no longer be used to repay the loan, requiring a burden-sharing agreement with other countries.

On the eve of the summit, Washington also sent strong signals of support to Ukraine, with expanded sanctions against Russia to target Chinese companies that help its war machine.

Europe's new political spectrum

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni enters the meeting fortified at home and abroad after her far-right party performed even stronger in the weekend's European Parliament elections than in the 2022 elections which made her the first female Italian Prime Minister. Known for its revolving-door governments, Italy now finds itself in the unusual position of being the most stable power in the EU.

The leaders of the other two EU members, Germany and France, are not faring as well, shaken by the strong showings of far-right parties in the vote. Macron called early elections and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz saw the far-right Alternative for Germany defeat its social democrats.

As a result, Meloni will likely be able to steer the three-day meeting toward its main priority points while strengthening its role on the world stage, analysts say. In a signal sign of his far-right muscles: Meloni's office denied media reports that Italy was trying to water down language on abortion access in the final communiqué.

Although the recent results are unlikely to radically change the direction of the next G7 summit, this election victory gives Prime Minister Meloni additional leverage to make it a predominantly Mediterranean summit, said Nick O'Connell, deputy director of the Atlantic Council.

This includes promoting his migration agenda as Meloni seeks to leverage his agenda for a non-exploitative relationship with Africa to boost development while curbing illegal migration to Europe.

Italy, which has been at ground zero in the European debate on migration for decades, is promoting its Matéi map as a way to create jobs and opportunities in Africa and discourage its young people from making dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea. The plan includes pilot projects in areas such as education, healthcare, water, sanitation, agriculture and energy infrastructure.

The Pope and artificial intelligence

Pope Francis has called for a international treaty to ensure AI is developed and used ethicallyrecognizing the promise it offers but emphasizing the serious and existential threats it poses.

He will carry this campaign to the industrialized countries of the world while wars rage on several fronts. One of his biggest concerns is the use of AI in the arms sector, which has been a frequent concern of the Jesuit Pope who has called even manufacturers of traditional weapons merchants of death.

But Francis also worries about what AI means for the poorest and weakest: technology that could determine the trustworthiness of a mortgage applicant, the right of a migrant to receive political asylum or the risk of recidivism of a person previously convicted of a crime.

The 87-year-old pope said he would also reiterate his calls for peace when holding half a dozen bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

Where is it happening ?

The G7 summit is taking place in a sprawling luxury resort that resembles a theater set, a fake town designed to look like one of Puglia's whitewashed medieval hamlets, but which actually only dates from 2010.

Located next to a real archaeological park, Borgo Egnazia features narrow streets, villas, restaurants and a square with a clock tower. A favorite of celebrities, it will be closed to outsiders for the duration of the summit.

No such five-star accommodation awaits the more than 2,000 police and carabinieri deployed to provide security. Authorities sequestered the decommissioned cruise ship sheltering them in the port of Brindisis on Wednesday after the police union complained about unacceptable hygiene conditions on board.

As throughout the G7, a range of anti-globalization, anti-war and climate activists are organizing protests around the summit venue, but far from where the leaders are meeting. A group is organizing a dinner for the poor on Friday evening calling for peace, people's rights and against the Big 7 who claim to decide the destiny of the world and our planet.

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Associated Press journalists Angela Charlton and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.

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

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