HIROSHIMA, Japan, May 20 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to Japan for the Group of Seven (G7) summit a “game changer,” as the two met for talks on the sidelines of the event.
“I think this is a unique opportunity to (have) exchanges with a lot of countries from the south and express your situation, express a message and share a view. I do believe it can be a game changer,” Macron said.
Macron added that France will be with Ukraine “to the very end”.
Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy brought his call for support against Russia’s invasion to a Group of Seven (G7) summit on Saturday on Japan, where leaders agreed to tighten sanctions against Moscow and pare back exposure to China.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived in the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Saturday to meet leaders of the world’s richest democracies and drum up support for the defence against Russia’s invasion of his country.
Zelenskiy’s presence at the Group of Seven summit in a city that was the first to suffer a nuclear attack cast into sharp relief western governments’ concerns over the nuclear threat posed by Russia.
The Hiroshima summit comes as G7 members are faced with the immense challenges posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and tensions with China, notably over Taiwan.
Zelenskiy, wearing his customary olive green fatigues, stepped out of a French government aircraft and moved quickly to a waiting car, footage from Japanese broadcasters showed.
Moments later he tweeted: “Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine.”
His arrival comes after G7 members warned that countries attempting to use trade as a weapon would face “consequences”, sending a strong signal to China over practices Washington has long said amount to economic bullying.
French and European officials said it was crucial that Zelenskiy came in person first to the Arab League and now to the G7, where members of the Global South are attending, in order to outline Ukraine’s view as the victim of an attack by Russia and how he saw a peace settlement in the future.
“We have to use all the means to bind non-aligned states to the cause of the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” a French presidential official told reporters.
Zelenskiy will hold bilateral meetings with G7 leaders, but significantly also the leaders of India and Brazil, two countries that have not distanced themselves from Moscow.
He is due to hold a session on Sunday with the G7 before a broader session with the Global South attendees.
In Other Developments
*India will be pleased to host the next Quad summit in 2024, a group compromising the U.S., Australia, Japan and India itself, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday.
In opening remarks at a Quad meeting on the sidelines of a Group of Seven summit, Modi told three other Quad leaders that the group was an important platform for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
* G7 leaders outlined a shared approach towards China, looking to “de-risk, not decouple” economic engagement with a country regarded as the factory of the world.
The G7 is looking to bridge a vast gap with emerging economies in the “Global South” by focussing on infrastructure and debt relief, officials say, part of a strategy to blunt China’s influence in lower-income countries.
* U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have discussed ways to strengthen defence cooperation and counter coercive behaviour by China, the White House said.
* 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. Its embassy in London warned that any words or deeds harming China’s interests would be met with “firm and resolute countermeasures”.
* 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 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.
* G7 leaders called on all participants of the Black Sea grain deal “to continue and fully implement its smooth operation at its maximum potential and for as long as necessary,” it said in a statement.
ECONOMY, CLIMATE, NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION
* G7 leaders agreed on an initiative to counter “economic coercion,” pledging action to ensure that any actors attempting to weaponise economic dependence would fail and face consequences.
* The G7 called for the development and adoption of international technical standards for “trustworthy” artificial intelligence (AI) as lawmakers of the rich countries focus on the new technology.
* G7 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a highly decarbonised road sector by 2030 and committed to the goal of achieving net-zero emissions on roads by 2050.
* The G7 must take the lead in phasing out fossil fuels, the leaders of seven countries including the Netherlands and Chile 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.
Photo – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) is seen through a fence as he arrives at the Hiroshima airport to attend the G7 Hiroshima Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, 20 May 2023. The G7 Hiroshima Summit will be held from 19 to 21 May 2023. EPA-EFE/FRANCK ROBICHON