G7 foreign ministers “more united than ever”

Foreign ministers from the G7 countries met in Japan for talks on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. As always, the meeting produced a fairly impenetrable joint statement laying out the G7’s foreign policy priorities in a numbered list.

We’ve unscrambled some of the ‘highlights’ for you:

  1. 🇮🇱🇵🇸 Israel / Gaza: The war was the first issue addressed this year, whereas “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine” topped the 2022 and 2021 communiqués. The G7 ministers expressed support for “humanitarian pauses and corridors” but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. All member states condemned Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel, but some disagreement remains on how far to push Israel amid the escalating civilian death toll.
  2. 🇺🇦 On Ukraine: The foreign ministers reiterated that their countries’support for Ukraine “will never waver”. This language is aimed at reassuring Kyiv after Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was caught saying in September “[t]here is a lot of fatigue, we [are] near the moment in which everybody understands that we need a way out”.
  3. 🇨🇳 On China: The ministers doubled down on the idea that the West is “de-risking and diversifying” from China rather than “decoupling or turning inwards”. The statement’s language wasn’t all conciliatory: “We will seek to address the challenges posed by China’s non-market policies and practices, which distort the global economy. We will counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer”. It took a while, but it seems G7 countries have settled on a common rhetorical playbook.
  4. 🇦🇿-🇦🇲 On Central Asia: This year’s statement dedicated significantly more attention to the region because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Interestingly, the communiqué focused first on building trade and investment links before urging “Azerbaijan to fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law”. G7 countries are probably trying to tread lightly around a conflict they’ve historically had little involvement with.
  5. 🇮🇷 On Iran: The G7 was robust in its assessment of Iran as a bad actor in the Middle East. The statement criticised Iran’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah, reiterated that Tehran must never acquire a nuclear weapon, expressed concern about the human rights situation inside Iran, and called out Iran’s destabilising activities in general. It was pretty strong stuff from the foreign ministers.

Intrigue’s take: A good rule of thumb is the more generic and vague a post-summit joint statement is, the more disagreement there was behind the scenes. And there will no doubt have been robust debates across G7 capitals about the language used to describe the Israel-Hamas war, the Russo-Ukraine war, and China.

While we’d stop short of calling this G7 foreign ministers’ statement specific or precise, the language used is certainly not waffle. That tells us that a broad consensus has emerged amongst G7 countries on how to deal with the most pressing global issues.

Also worth noting: 

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “the G7 is more united than ever”.
  • With that said, France was the only G7 country to support a UN resolution calling for an “immediate and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” in Gaza.
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