G7 Leaders Focus on Ukraine War, China in Italian Summit

Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
TT

G7 Leaders Focus on Ukraine War, China in Italian Summit

Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, patrol at a roadblock near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in southern Italy, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Group of Seven (G7) leaders start their annual summit on Thursday looking to double down on support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and offer a united face in confronting China's political and economic ambitions.
With the Middle East, migration and artificial intelligence (AI) also on a packed agenda, the June 13-15 summit in southern Italy would be taxing for leaders at the best of times, but most of them are also bowed down by their own domestic woes, said Reuters.
US President Joe Biden, facing a tough re-election bid in November, arrived in Italy the day after his son Hunter Biden was convicted of lying about his drug use to illegally buy a gun.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appears destined to lose power in a July 4 election, the leaders of France and Germany are reeling from political defeats, and opinion polls are bleak for the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.
Only the host, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is riding high after triumphing in Italy's European election last weekend, but achieving meaningful results in the luxury Borgo Egnazia hotel resort will be a tall order.
Determined to claim the initiative, the G7 leaders look likely to announce they have agreed on plans to issue $50 billion of loans for Ukraine using interest from frozen Russian assets to back the multi-year debt package.
However officials acknowledge the plan is complex, meaning any deal will only be in principle, with legal experts still having to thrash out the details that will need the backing of European nations, particularly Belgium, which is not in the G7.
For a second year running, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will attend the summit and is due to sign a new, long-term security accord with Biden.
"By signing this we'll also be sending Russia a signal of our resolve. If (Russian President) Vladimir Putin thinks he can outlast the coalition supporting Ukraine, he's wrong," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
CONFRONTING CHINA
Underscoring US determination to punish Moscow for its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Washington on Wednesday dramatically broadened sanctions on Moscow, including by targeting China-based companies selling semiconductors to Moscow.
By announcing new restrictions on Chinese firms on the eve of the G7 meeting, Biden is no doubt hoping to persuade Western allies to show greater resolve in confronting Beijing over its support for Russia and its industrial over-capacity.
The European Commission told automakers on Wednesday it would impose extra duties of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese electric cars from July, less than a month after Washington quadrupled duties for Chinese EVs to 100%.
While G7 leaders are expected to express concern over high Chinese production levels, which they say disrupt global supply chains and market stability, EU diplomats warn that Europe is anxious to avoid a full-blown trade war with Beijing.
The G7 has thrown open its doors to a large number of outsiders this year, including Pope Francis, who is expected to give a keynote speech on Friday on both the risks and potential of AI.
Among those who have also been invited to Puglia are the leaders of India, Brazil, Argentina, Türkiye, Algeria and Kenya.
Although the summit is scheduled to run until Saturday, many G7 chiefs will leave on Friday night, including Biden, meaning the final day has been earmarked for bilateral meetings for those staying on and a final news conference from Meloni.



Despite Curfew, Deaths Mount in Bangladesh Student Protests

Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
TT

Despite Curfew, Deaths Mount in Bangladesh Student Protests

Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Police imposed a strict curfew across Bangladesh and military forces patrolled parts of the capital Saturday to quell further violence after days of clashes over the allocation of government jobs left several people dead and hundreds injured.
The curfew follows the deadliest day yet in the weeks of protests despite a ban on public gatherings. Reports vary on the number of people killed Friday, with Somoy TV reporting 43. An Associated Press reporter saw 23 bodies at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, but it was not immediately clear whether they all died on Friday.
Another 22 people died Thursday as protesting students attempted to impose a “complete shutdown” of the country. Several people were also killed Tuesday and Wednesday.
The protests, which began weeks ago but escalated sharply when violence erupted Tuesday, represent the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since she won a fourth consecutive term in office after elections in January that were boycotted by the main opposition groups.
Police and protesters clashed in the streets and at university campuses in Dhaka and other cities across the south Asian country. Authorities moved to block online communications by banning mobile and internet services. Some television news channels also went off the air, and the websites of most Bangladesh newspapers were not loading or were being updated.
The curfew began at midnight and is set to relax from noon to 2 p.m. to allow people to buy essentials before being put back in place until 10 a.m. Sunday. A “shoot-at-sight” order was also in place, giving security forces the authority to fire on mobs in extreme cases, said lawmaker Obaidul Quader, the general secretary of the ruling Awami League party.

The protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 against Pakistan. They argue the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.

Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect for their contributions to the war, regardless of their political affiliation.

Representatives from the both sides met late Friday to find a resolution. At least three student leaders were part of the meeting in which they demanded a reform in the quota system, an opening of student dormitories across the country and the stepping down of university officials for failing to prevent violence on the campuses.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government was open to discussing the student leaders’ demands.

The protests are also backed by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party that has vowed to organize its own demonstrations with many of its supporters joining in the students’ protests.