A number of military leaders and diplomatic officials, including six former presidents, called on the nuclear powers Wednesday to put aside their differences and discuss measures to control nuclear weapons.
The leaders of the Group of Seven countries will arrive Thursday in Hiroshima, the city that was bombed with an atomic bomb in 1945 and has become a symbol of peace, for a summit centered on strengthening sanctions against Russia and confronting “economic coercion” that China may practice.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will receive the leaders of the other six major economic powers in the Group of Seven for a summit that will last until Sunday in Hiroshima.
The leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada will seek to present a united front against Russia and China, as well as on other strategic issues on which their countries do not always adopt similar positions.
Before his arrival in Japan, US President Joe Biden faced an acute political crisis over US debt that forced him to cancel two visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia, the later stops of a tour he planned to take in the Asia-Pacific region.
The war in Ukraine, since the start of the Russian invasion some 15 months ago, will dominate the agenda of the summit, with “discussions on the situation on the battlefield” organized, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
The United States and its allies have stepped up arms supplies to Kiev, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will participate in the summit via video link.
Sullivan said that the discussions will focus on tightening sanctions against Russia, which have so far led to a contraction of the Russian economy in the first quarter of 2023.
He indicated that the seven leaders will discuss ways to prevent the circumvention of sanctions that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to continue financing his war effort in Ukraine.
The seven countries strongly condemned Putin’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine, which some observers saw as an attempt to weaken the resolve of Europeans and Americans.
These dangers will be highlighted when the seven leaders visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which was erected at the site of the US atomic bombing on August 6, 1945, in memory of the 140,000 victims.
Kishida, whose family hails from Hiroshima and is himself elected from the city, hopes to seize the summit to urge the leaders of the other six countries, particularly the United States, the United Kingdom and France, which together have thousands of nuclear warheads, to pledge transparency about their stockpiles and to limit their arsenals.
A number of military leaders and diplomatic officials, including six former presidents, called on the nuclear powers Wednesday to put their differences aside and discuss measures to control nuclear weapons.
But in light of the growing tension with other nuclear powers such as Russia, North Korea and China, hopes remain low for achieving progress in this regard during the G7 summit.
The seven countries will devote a large part of their discussions to the issue of China, especially ways to address economic blackmail that Beijing may practice, by diversifying production and supply networks, at a time when the Chinese government has shown its willingness to impose restrictions on trade.
It is expected, according to Sullivan, that the leaders of the seven countries will denounce this “economic coercion” and seek to overcome the differences between the two sides of the Atlantic regarding the position that should be adopted towards China.
However, European countries, especially France and Germany, are determined to ensure that addressing the risks of economic coercion does not mean severing relations with China, one of the largest markets in the world.
And stressed the Elysee Palace before the summit that it is not “hostile to China,” calling to send a “positive message” of cooperation “provided that we negotiate together.”
Japan also invited eight countries to Hiroshima, including emerging economic powers such as India and Brazil, in an attempt to include some leaders who are reticent to confront the Russian war on Ukraine and Beijing’s escalating military ambitions in the region.