G7 leaders agree to new initiative to fight economic coercion

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TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) – Leaders of the Group of Seven agreed on Saturday to establish a new initiative to counter economic coercion, and pledged to take steps to ensure that any actors attempting to weaponise economic dependence would fail and face consequences.

The initiative, dubbed Coordination Platform on Economic Coercion, will use early warning and rapid information sharing on economic coercion with members meeting regularly for consultations, the leaders said in a statement.

In Other Developments

* Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) nations will outline steps on Saturday aimed at reducing risks from China while preserving economic ties, a day after they agreed to ramp up sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

DEALING WITH CHINA

* G7 members are prepared to build “constructive and stable relations” with China while acting in their national interests, according to a draft version of their communique seen by Reuters on Friday.

* White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said G7 members were looking to “de-risk, not decouple” from China.

* Leaders of the world’s richest democracies are looking to bridge a vast gap with emerging economies in the “Global South” by focusing on infrastructure and debt relief, officials say, part of a strategy to blunt China’s influence in lower-income countries.

* Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have discussed ways to strengthen defence cooperation and counter coercive behaviour by China, the White House said in a statement.

* China is gravely concerned about recent signs of “negative” China-related moves at the G7 summit and urges Japan not to turn it into a “political show” against or to curb China, the country’s embassy in Japan said.

SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will arrive in Hiroshima on Saturday and attend the summit on Sunday, joining a session with the G7 leaders and invited outreach countries that will focus on peace and security. He will also hold a bilateral meeting with Japan’s prime minister.

* G7 leaders said they had ensured that Ukraine had the budget support it needs for this year and early 2024. “Today we are taking new steps to ensure that Russia’s illegal aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine fails and to support the Ukrainian people in their quest for a just peace rooted in respect for international law,” they said in a statement.

* The United States on Friday announced sanctions on more than 300 targets, aiming to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and intensifying one of the harshest sanctions efforts ever implemented.

* During the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden will announce a $375 million military aid package for Ukraine that includes artillery, ammunition and HIMARS rocket launchers, a U.S. official said.

* Biden informed G7 leaders that Washington will support a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, CNN reported, citing a senior U.S. administration official.

* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his government wanted pragmatic measures to prevent the circumvention of sanctions imposed on Russia.

* Britain published plans to ban imports of Russian diamonds, copper, aluminium and nickel and announced a new wave of sanctions against Russia, targeting companies connected to the alleged theft of Ukrainian grain.

* Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, India’s foreign ministry said, their first meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

CLIMATE/ENERGY/NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

* U.S. President Joe Biden has reassured G7 leaders that he believes negotiators will arrive at a good outcome in debt ceiling talks, his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said.

* The G7 must take the lead in phasing out fossil fuels, the leaders of seven countries including The Netherlands and Chile have said, attempting to build momentum for a global deal this year to gradually quit oil, coal and gas.

* The G7 believes that publicly supported investment in the gas sector can be temporarily appropriate while countries are accelerating the phasing-out of their dependency on Russia, a draft communique seen by Reuters showed.

* Leaders of the G7 called for a “world without nuclear weapons,” urging Russia, Iran, China and North Korea to cease nuclear escalation and embrace non-proliferation, a statement released by the White House showed.

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