G7 leaders make progress

G7 leaders make progress on trade, remain split on climate change

G7 leaders make progress

 

By Giselda Vagnoni and John Irish | TAORMINA, ITALY

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations pledged on Saturday to fight protectionism, overcoming resistance from U.S. President Donald Trump, who was elected on an “America first” agenda, diplomatic sources said.

However, the United States remained isolated from the other six G7 nations over climate change, demanding more time to decide whether to honor its commitments to reduce carbon emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreements.

Diplomats worked through the night trying to bridge the gap between the new U.S. administration and its allies Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan on a number of barbed issues, including trade, the environment and Russia.

“In the end we convinced them to include the fight against protectionism in the final communique, so that was a step forward,” said one European diplomat, who declined to be named.

EU diplomats also looked to put a positive spin on Trump’s refusal to back the landmark Paris climate accord, saying he had listened hard to their arguments.

“Of course we would have liked the U.S. to commit, but we have to be realistic. Trump engaged in a dialogue, asked questions, received arguments and stays in the game,” a senior French diplomat said.

Meeting in a luxury hotel overlooking the Mediterranean sea, hosts Italy had hoped that the summit would focus on Europe’s migration crisis and the problems of neighboring Africa.

The internal G7 divisions and a suicide bombing in Britain on Monday, that killed 22, overshadowed the Italian agenda, but on Saturday five African leaders joined the world power leaders to discuss their continent’s potential.

Front row, L-R: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi pose for a family photo with other participants of the G7 summit during the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane de Sakutin/Pool

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou urged the G7 to take urgent measures to end the crisis in Libya — the point of departure for hundreds of thousands of migrants looking for a better life in Europe. He also criticized them for not honoring aid promises to fight poverty in West Africa’s poorest regions.

“Be it Niger, a transit nation, or the countries of origin, it is only through development that we will prevent illegal migration,” Issoufou said.

RUSSIAN STICKING POINT

The final communique is expected to be little more than six pages long, against 32 pages last year, with diplomats saying the leaders wanted a simpler document to reach a wider audience.

Among the remaining sticking points was whether to include a separate threat, that was inserted into the 2016 G7 statement, to take additional action against Russia, if warranted, for its intervention in Ukraine.

The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and pledged to up the penalties if Russian interference in Ukraine intensified. Trump’s promise of warmer ties with Moscow has called into question the U.S. commitment to sanctions.

Diplomats said that on other key international issues, such as Syria and North Korea, there was broad G7 agreement.

However, Italy was disappointed not to receive more backing for its call to open up more legal channels for immigration to try to slow the flow of people risking their lives to reach Europe on flimsy boats from lawless Libya.

G7 leaders make progress Source

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