Foreign ministers from the world's seven most developed nations met on Friday in northern France to push the fight against global inequality and cyber-crime despite the conspicuous absence of US top diplomat Mike Pompeo.
The two-day Group of Seven (G7) meeting took place under cloudy skies in the Breton resort of Dinard against the background of a litany of global troubles ranging from Libya to Brexit. But the ministers from Britain, Canada France, Germany, Italy and Japan will not be joined by their US counterpart Secretary of State Pompeo, who is sitting out the meeting in what analysts see as yet another sign of American suspicion towards multilateralism.
Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan is representing Washington at the meeting. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who like her counterparts had met Pompeo at a NATO meeting earlier this week, expressed regret he was not attending.
"I think we all regret that Mike is not here with us, but his very able deputy is here with us," adding Pompeo was "very engaged" at the NATO meeting. Britain's top diplomat Jeremy Hunt, before leaving for France, said that "what we will be talking about are the threats to democracy" including "cyber attacks, interference in democratic processes from hostile states." "We don't have a proper strategy to deter those attacks," he added.
France, whose President Emmanuel Macron will host a summit of G7 leaders in Biarritz in late August, is pushing the fight against inequality as the central theme of its year-long presidency.
Macron is desperate to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of the last G7 summit in Canada last year, which ended in acrimony when US President Donald Trump refused to sign the final communique in a bitter spat over trade.
The G7 was founded in the 1970s under the presidency of former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, but analysts say its clout may have dwindled with the creation of the G20 in the late 1990s. AFP