HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies will join their counterparts from other countries at their summit in Japan in an effort to broaden the G7’s influence and include voices from the so-called Global South.

From South America to South Asia, from the Ukraine to the South Pacific, the guests represent a carefully considered selection of countries including large emerging economies such as Australia, Brazil, Indonesia and India and smaller ones such as the Comoros and the Cook Islands. .

Critics accuse the G7 of being an “elite club” of countries whose relevance as world leaders is being eclipsed by emerging powers. By including leaders from large but less wealthy democracies such as India and Brazil, Japan and the other G7 countries are seeking to broaden their consensus on vital issues such as the war in Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness, debt and development issues, and climate change.

Joko Widodo, second right, President of Indonesia, and his wife Iriana, second left, pose for a photo with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and his wife Yuko Kishida, right at the Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima, in Hiroshima, western Japan. , Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Japan Pool via AP)

It’s kind of a weird assortment, but there’s a method to the mix.

South Korea is a key ally of the US and Japan, with a keen interest in regional security and stability. The Comoros, an archipelago off the coast of East Africa, currently chairs the African Union, a vital connection for a continent that is increasingly the focus of rivalry between Western democracies in China.

The Cook Islands lead the Pacific Islands Forum, another link to a strategically important region.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that another goal is to highlight the importance of developing countries from the Global South in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As the only Asian member of the G7, Japan has a special role to play in that regard, said Yuichi Hosoya, a professor of international politics at Tokyo’s Keio University.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, the G7 leaders underscored their commitment to help countries deal with debts that have risen to dangerous levels during the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. They also reiterated their goal of raising up to $600 billion in financing for projects to develop infrastructure such as railways, clean energy and telecommunications in developing countries.

Kishida convened a session of G7 leaders and guests that included executives from Citigroup and other private partners to discuss how to do more and offer an alternative to financing China with investments in a “transparent and fair manner.”

“We are just beginning. Together we have a lot to do to close the infrastructure gap,” President Joe Biden said at the meeting, pointing to a rail project in West Africa that he said would improve food security and supply chains.

“Let’s commit to showing that democracies can deliver,” Biden said. “We have to deliver.”

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the effort could increase the amount of investment from “billions to trillions”.

“We want to put a better offer on the table,” he said.

A key aim of including a broader set of countries at the annual G7 summit is to help build a deal ahead of the annual summit of the broader Group of 20 major economies in India later this year.

“Major global problems cannot be solved” without the other countries, Hosoya said. “Without the support of the countries of the Global South, the G7 cannot, unlike before, effectively respond to the world’s most pressing problems.”

Indonesia hosted the G20 last year and Brazil will host the meetings in 2024. All have complicated relations with China and Russia and the G7 is seeking support for its efforts to pressure Russia to end the war. India has repeatedly abstained from voting on UN resolutions against Moscow and has increased its imports of Russian oil, while calling for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Brazil and India belong to the so-called BRICS group of developing nations, which also includes China, Russia and South Africa. Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recently visited China to strengthen ties with its biggest trading market.

Vietnam is an increasingly important trading partner for the US, Japan and other G7 nations and one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Like Japan, it has territorial disputes with China.

“At a time when the world is heading towards divisions, one of the most important issues is figuring out how to steer the world in one direction and regain cooperation, and Japan is expected to play an important role as a bridge between the G7 and the rest of the world. -so-called countries of the Global South, including the G20,” said Akio Takahara, a professor at the University of Tokyo.


Find more of AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific


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