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G7 leaders, expanding the circle, shift focus to migration and the south

Topics will include economic security, Africa, the southern Mediterranean and the challenges posed by artificial intelligence.
Last Updated : 14 June 2024, 15:06 IST

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Bari, Italy: The leaders of the Group of 7 countries will share the stage Friday with leaders from India, Brazil, Turkey and other non-Western countries, showcasing a shifting global landscape on the second day of their summit meeting.

Among the thorny questions on the agenda: migration, which has helped fuel a recent resurgence of populism and far-right parties in Europe and the United States. The leaders will also discuss economic competition with China, security in the Indo-Pacific and relations between the West and the countries known collectively as the Global South, which broadly includes Latin America, Africa, and much of the Middle East and Asia.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is hosting the meeting, said the goal of her expanded guest list was to "strengthen dialogue with the nations of the Global South." She insisted that the G7 was "not a fortress closed in itself," but "an offer of values that we open to the world."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also emphasized the importance of strengthening relations with partners beyond the group, in particular the Global South, as the world faces challenges such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war, which threatens to spread to Lebanon.

Much of the focus will be on leaders such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, an acknowledgment that the West is less dominant demographically and economically in the world than in the past, and that it is listening to calls for more equity and balance in major decisions.

Topics will include economic security, Africa, the southern Mediterranean and the challenges posed by artificial intelligence.

How to control migration has vexed the United States and Europe for years, compounded by the effects of climate change and warfare in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Ukraine. It is a particularly sensitive issue for Meloni, who has campaigned hard to fight what she has called "uncontrolled immigration" to Italy and other parts of Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

Although Europe has welcomed thousands of Ukrainians, especially women and children, fleeing the Russian invasion, Ukrainian officials have urged European counterparts to help them repatriate men of fighting age.

But much of the day will be taken up with one-on-one meetings among the leaders, including with Pope Francis, who was invited to attend by Meloni. After he delivers a speech, Francis will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden, Modi, Lula, Kenyan President William Ruto, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Biden is expected to leave Italy on Friday evening, after a one-on-one meeting with the pope. The leaders will conclude the day with a concert and an informal dinner. On Saturday, there will more bilateral meetings and closing news conferences by the leaders.

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Published 14 June 2024, 15:06 IST

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