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G7: Scholz, Biden open summit with Ukraine topping agenda

The last time Germany hosted the annual summit was in 2015, a year after Russia annexed Crimea

The last time Germany hosted the annual summit was in 2015, a year after Russia annexed Crimea

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) are meeting on Sunday in the Bavarian Alps in Germany for the first day of their three-day annual summit.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden are set to discuss with the leaders of Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom proposals to increase pressure on Russia and extend support for Ukraine.

The sharp rise in food and oil prices across the world, as well as inflation, are also on the leaders' agenda.

Other democracies — Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa — have been invited to participate in select sessions of the meeting as well. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to address delegates via video link.

What did the leaders say at the summit?

Scholz and Biden opened the summit with a bilateral meeting. Biden complimented Scholz for "stepping up" when he became chancellor and said that Germany was one of Washington's most important allies after the two appeared briefly before the press.

Biden also said the G7 states and the NATO alliance must "stay together" in the face of Russia's invasion.

The G7 leaders are also due to tackle climate change, with Germany pressing for the creation of a "climate club" to set practical targets for reducing emissions for the participating countries.

EU Council President Charles Michel said during a press conference at the summit that the EU welcomes the "climate club" proposal from Germany, stressing the need to diversify energy sources and speed up renewable energy infrastructure.

He also highlighted the importance of tackling the food security crisis, partly by getting Ukrainian food products to the global market and by supporting the EU's partners that have been most hit by food shortages. Berlin hosted a global conference on Friday to discuss this issue.

The Biden administration also praised Germany's decision to boost its military spending, including a one-time investment of €100 billion ($105.6 billion) to modernize its forces.

"The president welcomed Germany's historic commitment to significantly boost defense spending and meet its NATO commitments,
which will strengthen the alliance's long-term deterrence and defense posture," a White House statement said.

Four G7 countries announce ban on Russian gold imports

Shortly before the summit began, London announced in a statement that the UK, along with the US, Japan and Canada, would ban new imports of Russian gold to tighten the economic effect of sanctions on Russia.

The joint action "will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin's war machine," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in the statement.

Washington said the decision will be formally announced as a G7 move on Tuesday.

The UK said that Russian gold exports reached around $15.5 billion in 2021 and that this figure has gone up since sanctions were imposed as a means of getting around them.

Demonstration against G7 summit

Some 200 protesters set off around midday in the small town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen close to the Elmau castle where the summit is being held.

Organizers told DPA that they expected the number of protesters to increase to around 2,000. A large number of police officers were also present to escort the demonstration.

A larger protest took place in the nearby major city of Munich on Saturday, but with significantly fewer than the expected 20,000 participants.

German police on Sunday said that four protesters from the Munich march had been arrested under charges of having cause bodily harm.

ab, rm/fb (Reuters, AFP, AP)