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G7 discusses migration, development with African leaders in Italy

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-27 19:26

TAORMINA -- Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations met with African heads of state and government on Saturday at the Italian town of Taormina, discussing issues like migration, development, among others.

Leaders of Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger and Tunisia were invited to join the talks, along with representatives from six African organizations, including the African Union (AU), as the G7 wrapped up its two-day annual summit.

The African leaders were welcomed with a ceremony at Taormina's ancient Greek theater in early morning, before meeting with their counterparts from the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Holding the G7 rotating presidency in 2017, Italy wanted to have the related topics of Europe's migration crisis and African development on top of the agenda of the annual summit.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's government wanted G7 partners to provide substantial help to crucial African countries in terms of investments and development policies, as a way to stem the endless flows of migrants and refugees fleeing poverty, destitution, and war.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union (EU) Council Donald Tusk also attended the meeting.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees have been risking their life crossing the Mediterranean from African coasts to Europe in the past years, and 1,520 people were estimated to have drowned in the attempt as of May 24, according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.

Italy has registered over 50,400 new arrivals so far this year, and some 181,000 in 2016, which in both cases would represent the large portion of all arrivals to Europe.

The G7 summit kicked off on Friday morning, with a major focus on terrorism and security, as a terror attack on Monday evening in the British city of Manchester had claimed at least 22 lives, the deadliest attack occurred in Britain since July 2005.

The G7 leaders delivered a common declaration, vowing to increase their efforts in tackling extremism, and to strengthen their cooperation in several sectors of counter terrorism.

As the terror alert dominated the first day's talks, other issues in the official agenda were partly overshadowed. No agreement seemed in sight on climate change, for example, given the wide gap between the US administration and other partners.

Attending his first G7 summit since he was elected, US President Donald Trump on Friday told his counterparts he would postpone the decision on whether to uphold the commitment to the Paris Climate Deal to cut carbon emissions.

Trump had earlier suggested the United States might pull out of the agreement, which was sealed in December 2015, and entered into force in November 2016.

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