G7 strikes deal to use Russia's assets

G7 strikes deal to use Russia's assets
From left, European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen participate in a working session at the G7, Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Borgo Egnazia, Italy. AP

BARI, Italy — A Group of Seven summit opened Thursday, June 13, 2024, with agreement on a U.S. proposal to back a $50 billion loan to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets as collateral, giving Kyiv a strong show of support even as Europe’s political chessboard shifts to the right.

Diplomats confirmed that an agreement had been reached on the deal before the leaders even landed in southern Italy for the three-day summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be on hand and is expected to sign a separate bilateral security agreement with U.S. President Joe Biden.

First pope

Beyond the Ukraine war, Pope Francis will become the first pope to address a G7 summit, adding a dash of celebrity and moral authority to the annual gathering that is being held this year in Italy’s sun-drenched Puglia region. He’ll be speaking Friday about the promises and perils of artificial intelligence, but is expected to also renew his appeal for a peaceful end to wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Host Italy has invited several African leaders — Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Kenyan President William Ruto and Tunisian President Kais Saied — to press Italy’s Africa initiatives. Other guests include Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fresh off his own election, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

With Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and now French President Emmanuel Macron facing elections in the coming months, pressure was on the G7 to get done what it can while the status quo lasts.

Frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine

The U.S. proposal involves using profits from the roughly $260 billion in frozen Russian central bank assets, most of them held in the European Union, to help Ukraine, and issuing a $50 billion loan from the U.S. government to Kyiv, using windfall profits from the immobilized funds as collateral. / AP

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