HIROSHIMA, Japan (Net) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy landed Saturday in Hiroshima for diplomatic talks with the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies who have tightened sanc-tions meant to punish Moscow and change the course of its 15-month invasion of Ukraine.
Japan says Zelenskyy’s decision to visit Hiroshima stems from his “strong wish” to participate in talks that will influence his nation’s defense against Russia.
An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity to brief reporters on the deliberations, said Zelen-skyy will take part in two separate sessions Sunday. The first session will be with G7 members only and will focus on the war in Ukraine. The second session will include the G7 as well as the other nations in-vited to take part in the summit, and will focus on “peace and stability.”
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that President Joe Biden and Zelenskyy would have direct engagement at the summit. On Friday, Biden announced his support for training Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, a precursor to eventually providing those aircraft to Ukraine’s Air Force.
World leaders have faced a balancing act at the G7 in Hiroshima as they look to address a raft of global worries demanding urgent attention, including climate change, AI, poverty and economic instability, nuclear proliferation and, above all, the war in Ukraine.
China, the world’s No. 2 economy, sits at the nexus of many of those concerns.
There is increasing anxiety in Asia that Beijing, which has been steadily building up its nuclear weapons program, could try to seize Taiwan by force, sparking a wider conflict. China claims the self-governing island as its own and regularly sends ships and warplanes near it.
The G7 leaders issued a statement warning that China’s “accelerating build-up of its nuclear arsenal with-out transparency (or) meaningful dialogue poses a concern to global and regional stability.”
“We do seek to cooperate with China on matters of mutual interest,” Sullivan said of the statement. “We will work to address our significant concerns that we have with China in a range of areas.”
North Korea, which has been testing missiles at a torrid pace in an attempt to perfect a nuclear program meant to target the mainland United States, must completely abandon its nuclear bomb ambitions, the leaders’ statement said, “including any further nuclear tests or launches that use ballistic missile technol-ogy. North Korea cannot and will never have the status of a nuclear-weapon State under” international nuclear treaties.
The green light on F-16 training is the latest shift by the Biden administration as it moves to arm Ukraine with more advanced and lethal weaponry, following earlier decisions to send rocket launcher systems and Abrams tanks. The United States has insisted that it is sending weapons to Ukraine to defend itself and has discouraged attacks by Ukraine into Russian territory.
India, the world’s largest democracy, has been measured in its comments on the war in Ukraine, and has avoided outright condemnation of Russia’s invasion. While India maintains close ties with the U.S. and its Western allies, it is also a major buyer of Russian arms and oil.
The latest sanctions aimed at Russia include tighter restrictions on already-sanctioned people and firms involved in the war effort. More than 125 individuals and organizations across 20 countries have been hit with U.S. sanctions.
In addition, new reporting requirements were issued for people and firms that have any interest in Rus-sian Central Bank assets. The purpose is to “fully map holdings of Russia’s sovereign assets that will re-main immobilized in G7 jurisdictions until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine,” the U.S. Treasury Department said.
The G7 nations said that they would work to keep Russia from using the international financial system to prosecute its war, and they urged other nations to stop providing Russia with support and weapons “or face severe costs.”
The leaders began the summit with a visit to a peace park dedicated to the tens of thousands who died in the world’s first wartime atomic bomb detonation. Kishida, who represents Hiroshima in parliament, wants nuclear disarmament to be a major focus of discussions.
Biden, who scrapped plans to travel on to Papua New Guinea and Australia after his stay in Japan so that he can get back to debt limit talks in Washington, arranged to meet Saturday on the G-7 sidelines with leaders of the so-called Quad partnership, made up of Japan, Australia, India and the United States.
The G7 leaders are also to discuss efforts to strengthen the global economy and address rising prices that are squeezing families and government budgets around the world, particularly in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
A U.S. official said the leaders on Saturday would issue a joint communique outlining new projects in the G7’s global infrastructure development initiative, which is meant to offer countries an alternative to China’s investment dollars.
The G7 includes Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, as well as the European Union.