G7 urges help for Ukraine, caution on China at German meet

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The Group of Seven club of rich countries has agreed a new structure to funnel aid to Ukraine

MüNSTER (GERMANY) – The G7 foreign ministers on Friday vowed to continue supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia and urged caution towards China after two days of talks in Germany.

The Group of Seven club of rich countries has agreed a new structure to funnel aid to Ukraine to help rebuild infrastructure targeted by Russia, the foreign ministers said in a statement.

“Today we establish a G7 coordination mechanism to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure,” they said in the western city of Muenster.

The ministers said Russia was trying to “terrorise the civilian population” of Ukraine with attacks against people and infrastructure, in particular energy and water facilities.

“Indiscriminate attacks against civilian population and infrastructure constitute war crimes and we reiterate our determination to ensure full accountability for these and crimes against humanity,” the ministers said.

The G7 also expressed concern over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent comments on nuclear weapons and said any use of such arms would be met with “severe consequences”.

– ‘Irresponsible rhetoric’ –

“Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable,” they said, also rejecting Russia’s “false claims that Ukraine is preparing a radiological ‘dirty bomb'”.

“We reiterate our unwavering commitment to continue providing the financial, humanitarian, defense, political, technical, and legal support Ukraine needs to alleviate the suffering of its people and to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the ministers said.

Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of the talks, British foreign minister James Cleverly said the allies would help Ukraine “bring this conflict to a successful conclusion for however long that takes”.

China was also high on the agenda at the summit, which took place just as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was on a controversial visit to Beijing.

Scholz told Chinese leaders on Friday that Berlin expected equal treatment on trade as he tried to drum up greater economic cooperation despite growing distrust of the Asian superpower in the West.

The G7 countries said they were ready for “constructive cooperation with China, where possible and in our interest”.

But at the same time, they called on Beijing to “act in accordance with its international commitments and legal obligations” and to “abstain from threats, coercion, intimidation, or the use of force”.

“We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion,” they said, in an allusion to Taiwan.

A senior US State Department official told reporters there had been a “remarkable alignment on views and approaches on China” at the summit.

Iran also figured at the gathering, with the ministers condemning Tehran’s “brutal and disproportionate” response to a wave of protests sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.

– Iran rebuke –

The diplomats criticised Tehran’s “destabilising activities in and around the Middle East”, such as the transfer of weapons, including drones, “to state and non-state actors”.

“Such proliferation is destabilising for the region and escalates already high tensions,” they said.

The closing statement also criticised a record-breaking series of North Korean missile launches earlier this week that included a failed intercontinental ballistic missile test.

“We, the G7 members, strongly condemn the unprecedented series of unlawful ballistic missile launches,” it said.

And in another nod to the fallout from the war in Ukraine, the ministers called on oil-producing states to increase production to help bring down prices, a month after OPEC+ decided to drastically reduce its output.

Increasing production should help “decrease volatility in energy markets” caused by the war in Ukraine, the ministers said.

The G7 intends to finalise “in the coming weeks” the implementation of a Russian oil price cap mechanism, they said.

To round off the meeting, the ministers held talks with their Kenyan and Ghanaian counterparts, as well as representatives from the African Union.

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