HIROSHIMA (Japan) -- Leaders from the world's strongest democracies have warned China and North Korea to refrain from building up their arsenals of nuclear weapons. They are now focusing on the major crises in northeast Asia ahead of the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later Saturday.
As leaders tighten sanctions to punish Moscow for its 15-month long invasion of Ukraine, the Group of Seven summit will focus on Asia. Japan confirmed Zelenskyy’s decision to travel to Hiroshima was a result of his ‘strong desire’ to take part in discussions that would influence his country's defense against Russia.
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National Security Advisor, said that Zelenskyy and President Joe Biden would engage directly at the summit. This was a day after Biden had announced his support to train Ukrainian pilots to fly U.S. made F-16 fighter aircraft, as a prelude to providing these aircraft to Ukraine's Air Force.
At the G7 summit in Hiroshima, world leaders faced a delicate balancing act as they sought to address global concerns that demand urgent attention. These include climate change, artificial intelligence, poverty, economic instability, and nuclear proliferation.
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In Asia, there is growing concern that Beijing could attempt to forcefully seize Taiwan, causing a larger conflict. Beijing has been steadily developing its nuclear weapons program. China has claimed the island's self-government and sends warplanes and ships near it regularly.
The G7 leaders released a statement in which they warned that China's "accelerated build-up of nuclear arsenal without transparency or meaningful dialogue" poses a threat to global and regional security.
Sullivan stated that the statement was a "call to action" for China. We will address the significant concerns we have about China in many areas.
The leaders of North Korea said that the country must abandon all nuclear ambitions. This includes any future nuclear tests or launches using ballistic missile technology. North Korea will not and cannot be a nuclear weapon state under international nuclear treaties.
Biden's administration has given the green light to F-16 training, the latest move in its efforts to arm Ukraine with lethal and advanced weaponry. This follows earlier decisions by the Biden Administration to send Abrams tanks and rocket launcher systems. The United States insists that it is sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine in order to defend itself. It has also discouraged any attacks from Ukraine on Russian territory.
Sullivan stated that 'we've reached a point where we need to look further into the future to see what Ukraine will require as part of a force to deter and defend us against Russian aggression in the future'.
Unnamed EU officials, briefing reporters about the deliberations under condition of anonymity, confirmed that Zelenskyy would take part in two separate session on Sunday. The first session is for G7 members and will be centered around the conflict in Ukraine. The second session, which will include both the G7 and the other countries invited to participate in the summit and focus on "peace and stabilty," will also include the G7 and the other nations.
G7 leaders announced a new round of global sanctions against Moscow, as well as plans for enhancing the effectiveness of financial penalties already in place to limit President Vladimir Putin's military efforts. Russia has become the most sanctioned nation in the world. However, there are concerns about its effectiveness.
In a joint statement issued after their closed-door meeting, the G7 leaders stated that 'our support for Ukraine won't waver'. The G7 leaders pledged to'stand together against Russia's illegal and unjustified war of aggression on Ukraine'
They said that 'Russia began this war and could end this war'.
Zelenskyy's calls for Western fighter planes to strengthen his country’s defenses have been consistent. Officials believe that the jets will be essential for Ukraine's security in the long term, as it has upgraded its air defenses and is preparing to launch a counteroffensive to Russia.
Biden has told leaders that he will make his decisions about when, how many and who will supply the F-16 fourth-generation fighter jets in the months to come, while training is taking place.
Separately, the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held separate talks with India's Prime Minister Narendra modi. India will host the G20 summit later this year. Kishida said that any attempt to change the world by force should not be tolerated, possibly a reference to Russia's invasion in Ukraine or a warning for China on Taiwan.
India, as the largest democracy in the world, has been cautious in its remarks on the war in Ukraine and avoided condemning Russia's invasion outright. India, which has close ties to the U.S. as well as its Western allies and is a major purchaser of Russian oil and arms, also maintains strong ties with Western countries.
In addition to the new sanctions against Russia, there are also tighter restrictions for those who have already been sanctioned and companies that were involved in war efforts. U.S. sanctioned more than 125 people and organizations in 20 different countries.
A new set of reporting requirements was also issued to people and companies with any interest in assets owned by the Russian Central Bank. The U.S. Treasury Department stated that the purpose of the mapping is to "completely map all holdings of Russia’s sovereign assets which will remain immobilized within G7 jurisdictions, until Russia pays for damage caused to Ukraine."
The G7 nations stated that they will work to prevent Russia from using international financial systems to pursue its war and they warned other nations not to provide Russia with weapons and support 'or they face severe consequences'
The summit began with a visit by the leaders to a park of peace dedicated to the thousands who lost their lives in the first detonation of an atomic bomb during war. Kishida is the Hiroshima MP who wants to make nuclear disarmament a main topic of discussion.
Biden has arranged a meeting with the leaders of the Quad partnership, which is made up of Japan Australia India and the United States, on Saturday, at the G-7.
The G7 leaders will also discuss efforts to strengthen global economy, and to address the rising prices which are pinching budgets and families around the globe, especially in developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
An official from the United States said that the leaders would release a communique on Saturday outlining the new projects of the G7’s global infrastructure initiative. The initiative is intended to provide countries with an alternative investment option to China.
The G7 is made up of Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom as well as France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Canada.