G7 diplomats reject Chinese, North Korean and Russian aggression

KARUIZAWA, Japan (AP) — Top diplomats from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies pledged a tough stance on growing Chinese threats to Taiwan and North Korea’s unchecked long-range missile tests, while building momentum on ways to boost support for Ukraine and punish. Russia to invade.

Russia’s war in Ukraine took up much of the agenda Monday for envoys gathered in this Japanese hot-spring city for talks aimed at paving the way for the work of the Group of Seven leaders when they meet next month in Hiroshima.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the world is at a “turning point” over the fighting in Ukraine and should “firmly reject unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, Russian aggression against Ukraine and its threats to use nuclear weapons”. colleagues, according to a Japanese abstract.

For the American delegation, the meeting comes at a crucial moment in the world’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and efforts to engage with China, two issues that G7 ministers from Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union regard as powerful rules-based post-WWII challenges. international system.

A senior US official traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the Biden administration’s goal for the talks is to bolster support for Ukraine, including a major initiative on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure launched at G7 meetings in Germany last year, as well as to ensure continued military assistance. to Kiev.

The official said that stepping up punishment against Russia, particularly through economic and financial sanctions that the G7 first threatened in December 2021, before the invasion, would also be a priority.

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Ukraine faces an important moment in the coming weeks with the current Russian offensive largely halted and Ukraine preparing for a counterattack. There will be discussion about ways to deepen support for Ukraine’s long-term defense and deterrence capabilities, said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Blinken’s priorities in the closed-door meetings. It might also improve Kiev’s position for potential negotiations that could end the conflict on their own terms.

The role of Japan – the only Asian member of the G7 – as chair of this year’s talks provides an opportunity to discuss coordinated action on China. The leaders and foreign ministers of the G7 countries, the latest being France and Germany, concluded their visits to China recently, and Karuizawa’s diplomats are expected to discuss their impressions of China’s stance on many issues, including the war in Ukraine and the North. Korea and Taiwan, a particularly sore point in US-China relations.

At a private working dinner Sunday night that was the diplomats’ first official meeting, Hayashi urged continued dialogue with China on several global challenges as Beijing’s participation is seen as crucial. Among Chinese interests that intertwine with those of wealthy democracies are global trade, finance, and climate efforts.

But the diplomats are also looking to address China’s more aggressive stance in the region, particularly toward Taiwan, the self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its own.

Hayashi told the ministers that outside countries should continue to “build a constructive and stable relationship, while directly expressing our concerns and inviting China to act as a responsible member of the international community,” according to a closed-door dinner summary.

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China recently sent planes and ships to simulate encircling Taiwan. Beijing was also rapidly adding nuclear warheads, taking a tougher line on its claim to the South China Sea and plotting out a scenario of imminent confrontation.

Anxiety can be seen in Japan with its efforts to achieve a major break from self-defense principles only after World War II, working to acquire preventive offensive capabilities and cruise missiles to counter growing threats.

Blinken was scheduled to visit Beijing in February, but the trip was delayed by a Chinese spy balloon The incident is over US airspace and has not yet been rescheduled.

blinkin He met briefly with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Forum, but high-level contacts between Washington and Beijing have become rare. The senior US official said Blinken would seek insight from his French and German counterparts on their interactions with the Chinese.

Despite signs, notably comments from French President Emmanuel Macron, that the G7 is divided over China, the official said there is a common concern among G7 countries about China’s actions. The official added that the foreign ministers will discuss how to continue a coordinated approach to China.

Another senior State Department official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door meetings, said the G7 will release a statement on Tuesday showing the group’s strong unity on Russia’s war in Ukraine, China and India. – Pacific, especially North Korea, the need to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and improve relations with Pacific island countries.

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The official played down suggestions that divisions were emerging over China. The official said the G7 members want to work with China on common challenges, but will “stand up” against Chinese coercion and attempts to relax or circumvent international rules on trade and commerce.

The official said that in several recent diplomatic contacts with Chinese officials, G7 members have assured Beijing that any supply of weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine will be met with severe consequences, as will attempts to change Taiwan’s status quo. The official said European members now have a better understanding of how the “disruption” of the status quo will affect their interests, particularly their economies.

North Korea is also a major area of ​​concern for Japan and other neighboring countries in the region.

Since last year, Pyongyang has test-fired about 100 missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles. That showed access to the US mainland and a variety of other short-range weapons threatening South Korea and Japan.

Hayashi expressed his “grave concern over North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles with an unprecedented frequency and in unprecedented ways, including the launch last week, and the G7 foreign ministers strongly condemned North Korea’s repeated launch of ballistic missiles,” according to the statement. summary.

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