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G7 foreign ministers look for alignment on Ukraine war, China

Click to play video: 'Russian missiles leave large parts of Ukraine without water, power'
Russian missiles leave large parts of Ukraine without water, power
WATCH: Russian missiles leave large parts of Ukraine without water, power – Oct 31, 2022

Group of Seven foreign ministers gather in Germany on Thursday to discuss how to better align policies and stay united in the face of intensifying Russian attacks on Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness and Iran’s crackdown on protesters.

The meeting in the western German city of Muenster comes as concerns persist over the West’s consistency against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid leadership changes across Europe. A possible U.S. Republican victory to take control of Congress in next week’s midterm elections also raises fears over potential curbs to U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

“This G7 ministerial is, for us, coming at an important time,” a senior U.S. State Department official said, noting that the group “has been a vital coordinating mechanism” for policy approaches on the most pressing issues.

Read more: G7 foreign ministers to discuss Ukraine war, China’s threat to Taiwan

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During the two-day meeting, the G7 diplomats will join sessions on Ukraine, China and the Indo-Pacific as well as Iran and Africa, among others.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said on Tuesday during a visit to Kyiv that the European Union, together with partners, was exploring ways to increase help for Ukraine’s energy sector.

Ukraine needed specific equipment and tools to repair damage to its energy infrastructure, she said. Foreign companies should be urged to prioritise the transfer of energy equipment to Ukraine.

ASIA FOCUS

The G7 meeting will also provide an opportunity for the world’s richest democracies to discuss developments in China and security in the Indo-Pacific after Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated his grip on power at last month’s Communist Party Congress.

Xi said in a speech at the opening of the congress that China would never renounce the use of force to ensure unification with the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which it claims as sovereign territory.

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“The Foreign Ministers will discuss the situation in Taiwan … and how the G7 can strengthen partnerships with countries in the region,” the British foreign ministry said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'China’s Xi Jinping wins third term as head of ruling party, promotes allies'
China’s Xi Jinping wins third term as head of ruling party, promotes allies

G7 ministers are also likely to address German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s recent contentious decisions to allow Chinese shipping company Cosco to invest in a terminal in Hamburg port and pay a visit to Beijing on Friday.

Critics have accused Scholz of continuing to prioritise Germany’s economic interests over broader security concerns in the face of an increasingly assertive authoritarian state as they say his predecessor, Angela Merkel, did with Russia.

The United States had “strongly suggested” that China have no controlling interest in the Hamburg port terminal, the senior U.S. State Department official said.

Germany did in the end decide to allow Cosco just a 24.9 per cent stake in the terminal, down from an original bid for a 35 per cent stake.

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Germany has also invited Ghana, Kenya and the African Union to join the G7 meeting for discussions on climate change, infrastructure, democracy and addressing conflict and humanitarian crises, the British foreign ministry said.

“We’re doing more together in the so-called Global South, including in Africa,” the senior State Department official said. “That’ll be a feature of this discussion.”

The G7 meeting is being hosted by Germany as holder of the group’s rotating presidency. Muenster is hosting its first major diplomatic gathering since the signing of the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the Thirty Years’ War in Europe.

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