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

A summit meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations has focused on migration on its second day, seeking ways to combat trafficking and increase investment in countries from where migrants start out on often life-threatening journeys

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy (AP) — A summit meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations focused on migration on Friday, the second and final day of the gathering in southern Italy, 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 summit in a luxury resort in Italy's southern Puglia region also focused on global conflicts and the spread of artificial intelligence. Perennial issues such as climate change and China were also discussed. On the first day of the summit, the attendees promised tens of billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine.

But some divisions also emerged over the wording of the summit’s final declaration, with disagreement 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

— Biden and Meloni meet on summit sidelines but abortion wasn't on the agenda

Here’s the latest:

G7 final statement renews pledge of support to Ukraine, calls for Gaza cease-fire, announces launch of initiatives to fight people smuggling, harness AI to create jobs

The Group of Seven leading industrialized democracies have renewed their pledge to support Ukraine’s “fight for freedom and its reconstruction for as long as it takes.”

In the final communique of their summit in Italy released Friday, G7 leaders affirmed their decision to make available around $50 billion to Ukraine by leveraging “the extraordinary revenues” of frozen Russian assets, sending “an unmistakable signal” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Regarding the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the leaders said the stand united in supporting a deal that would lead to an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages and a pathway leading to a two-state solution. They also called for a sharp increase in humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory.

The leaders affirmed the launching of the Energy for Growth in Africa that aims to spur clean energy investments across the continent.

On migration, G7 leaders said they would work with countries of origin and transit to deal with the root causes of irregular migration, enhance border management, fight people smuggling rings through the launch of the G7 coalition while creating “safe and regular pathways for migration.”

Turning to climate change and the environment. the leaders said each G7 member would submit “ambitious” national plans aimed at keeping the target of a limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The G7 will unlock at least $20 billion over three years in investment to boost women’s empowerment.

According to the communique, the G7 said it would work to “harness the benefits and manage the risks” of Artificial Intelligence while launching an action plan on the use of AI to help create jobs and protect workers’ rights.

As was expected however, the communique made no mention of abortion after Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing government worked to water down references to the medical procedure.

The communique omits the word “abortion” but does reference the need to promote “reproductive health and rights.”

US says all other G7 countries will send billions to Ukraine funded by seized Russian assets

WASHINGTON — The U.S. will be joined by all the other Group of Seven partners in sending tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine funded by seized Russian assets.

The White House announced Friday that the rest of the group of wealthy democracies will either help contribute to or facilitate the unprecedented transaction.

The U.S. has said it stands ready to send Ukraine up to $50 billion. Canada will loan Ukraine up to $5 billion, the White House said, while European countries have expressed interest in sending as much as half of the total package.

Japan has also said it intends to help fund Ukraine — though its laws require the money to go to Ukraine’s budget, not its war effort.

Technocrats are expected to work through the final details in the coming weeks and months, with the money set to flow to Ukraine by the end of the year.

Pope tells G7 countries to keep humanity first and foremost in developing, using AI

BARI, Italy — Pope Francis is challenging leaders of the world's wealthy democracies to keep human dignity foremost in developing and using artificial intelligence.

Addressing a special session of the Group of Seven annual summit in Italy Friday, the pontiff warned that such powerful technology risks turning human relations themselves into mere algorithms.

Francis became the first pope to attend the G7 and urged politicians to take the lead in making sure AI remains centered around humans so that decisions about when to use weapons or even less-lethal tools always remain made by humans and not machines.

Francis is joining a chorus of countries and global bodies pushing for stronger guardrails on AI following the boom in generative artificial intelligence kickstarted by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot.

G7 warns Israel against actions that could weaken the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank

The G7 nations on Friday warned Israel to stop any “actions that weaken the Palestinian Authority,” after far-right Israeli leaders moved to withhold tax funds from the fledgling Palestinian government in the West Bank.

The statement was part of the final communique from the G7 summit in Italy. Under the 1990s interim peace accords, Israel collects tax revenue on behalf of the Palestinians. It has used the money as a tool to pressure the Palestinian Authority, which administers some parts of the West Bank. Hamas violently expelled the PA from Gaza in 2007.

The G7 called on Israel to release tax revenues in light of the PA’s “urgent fiscal needs.” The leaders also demanded Israel “remove or relax other measures to avoid further exacerbating the economic situation in the West Bank.”

On Thursday, Israel’s firebrand finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said he would reroute some of the funds earmarked for the PA to “victims of terrorism” in Israel.

After the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that triggered the war in Gaza, Smotrich froze the tax revenue transfers, but Israel agreed to send the money to Norway, which transferred it to the PA. Smotrich has said he is ending that arrangement and is pursuing other financial measures that would handicap the PA’s already-waning ability to pay salaries to thousands of employees.

G7 to launch initiative spurring clean energy investments across Africa

BARI, Italy - The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations says it’s launching an initiative to spur clean energy investments across Africa.

According to a draft statement seen by the Associated Press, the Energy for Growth in Africa initiative currently involves the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo and South Africa.

The initiative aims to help Africa fulfill its potential to become a global sustainable energy hub by developing “adequate clean energy infrastructure and supply chains.”

The statement, to be released at the conclusion of the three-day summit, also commits G7 countries to submitting “ambitious” national plans for investments aiming to keep within the global temperature rise limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

G7 leaders also say they’ll commit to meeting the global goal of deploying 1,500 GW of energy storage in the power sector by 2030 while phasing out coal power generation by the first half of 2035 or in a “timeline consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5 degrees temperature rise within reach.”

The leaders say they’ll intensify efforts to cut methane emissions in line with the global reduction level of at least 35% by 2035.

They also underscored the important role that increased deliveries of liquefied natural gas can currently play in quickly reducing the dependency on Russian gas imports.

G7 leaders to launch AI action plan aimed at creating quality jobs, empower workers

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.”

G7 to set up information sharing mechanism to counter migrant smuggling rings

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.”

G7 leaders to step up efforts countering foreign information manipulation against democracies

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.

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.”

G7 leaders concerned over what they say are China's unfair business practices

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.

Biden, fellow G7 leaders discuss policies from China affecting the global economy

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

Draft G7 statement warns Iran to halt uranium enrichment, repeats Tehran must not get nuke weapon

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.

Putin denounc

es the freezing of Russian assets as theft, vows retaliation

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.

Biden and Zelenskyy sign security agreement at G7 summit

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.

Leaders of Ukraine and Japan sign 10-year agreement on security, defense, humanitarian aid

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.”

Britain announces new sanctions aimed at degrading Russia’s ability to wage war in Ukraine

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.”

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