Ukraine casts shadow over Hiroshima meeting

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President Joe Biden, fourth right, and other G7 leaders pose for a photo during a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, Friday, May 19, 2023, during the G7 Summit. Pictured from left: President Charles Michel of the European Council, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, U.S. President Joe Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh,Pool)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will attend the Group of Seven (G7) Hiroshima summit this weekend, Ukrainian and Western officials said, putting fresh pressure on Russia against the backdrop of a city synonymous with the horrors of nuclear war.

Zelenskiy will attend on Sunday, two officials involved in the G7 summit said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

His presence and his calls for greater support in the war with Russia will add urgency to deliberations as leaders of the world’s rich democracies look to crack down on Russia’s circumvention of sanctions.

They are expected to announce new sanctions against Russia and closer collaboration in countering China’s growing influence.

“Very important things will be decided there,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, told state television.

He said Zelenskiy’s attendance was “absolutely essential in order to defend our interests”.

The Ukrainian president is expected to arrive in Japan on Saturday evening, one of the sources said. The White House declined to comment.

The members of the G7 – the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – are expected to debate strategy on a more than year-long conflict that shows no sign of easing.

Germany has seen its exports to countries bordering Russia surge in the first quarter, fuelling concerns that re-exports from those neighbouring states are helping Russia dodge sanctions.

‘EMOTION AND COMPASSION’

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who represents Hiroshima in Japan’s lower house of parliament, said he chose the city for the summit to focus attention on arms control.

Hiroshima, and another Japanese city, Nagasaki, were destroyed by U.S. nuclear attacks 78 years ago that ended World War Two.

School children presented the G7 leaders with wreaths and they then solemnly placed them at the city’s peace memorial.

They also met with a “hibakusha”, an atomic bomb survivor.

“With emotion and compassion, it is up to us to contribute to the duty of remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima and to act in favour of peace, the only fight that deserves to be waged,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote in a memorial book.

Having emerged as the world’s richest nations after World War Two, the G7 democracies have become increasingly challenged by an ascendant China and unpredictable Russia.

Britain will announce a ban on Russian diamonds and imports of metals from Russia including copper, aluminium and nickel in support for Ukraine, it said in a statement.

It will also target an additional 86 people and companies from Putin’s military industrial complex, in addition to those involved in the energy, metals and shipping industries, it said.

European Council President Charles Michel said Europe would also restrict sales of Russian diamonds.

Officials were still hashing out the details of their final announcements on Russia as well as debating precise language on China, according to people from four of the nations involved.

The United States is set to add 70 entities to its export blacklist, and to expand its sanctions authority to 300 entities as well as new sectors of the Russian economy, a senior U.S. administration official said.

Russia has said it is ready to use its nuclear arsenal to defend its “territorial integrity” if necessary.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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