Lack of G7 leader bilaterals not a snub – Rishi Sunak

Lack of G7 leader bilaterals not a snub – Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has said the fact he does not have bilaterals scheduled with G7 leaders at a summit in Italy does not mean they are snubbing him.

The Prime Minister has so far had bilateral meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the event in Puglia.

He was greeted warmly by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Thursday morning with an embrace as they posed for a photo to mark the summit’s start.

Asked whether he was being snubbed, Mr Sunak emphasised that though he has not held bilateral talks with the other G7 leaders from the US, Italy, France, Germany, Canada and Japan, he has held meetings in the margins.

Mr Sunak said: “We’ve been here a half a day already and I sat down with a bunch of people I need to in the margins. That’s kind of how these things work.

“So, I’ve already sat down with Emmanuel [Macron], spoken to Olaf [Scholz] about a bunch of things, and you can do that – the benefit of these meetings because they’re small, because it is only the G7 obviously plus the EU, is that you have the time and the ability to talk to people in small groups, one on one. That’s the beauty of summits like this, actually the intimacy of them.”

Asked if he had apologised to Emmanuel Macron for leaving D-Day commemorations early last week, he said he had had a “very good meeting” with the French president

The G7 countries have agreed to fund a 50 billion US dollar (£39 billion) support package for Ukraine that uses the profits of assets seized from Russia.

“The money is provided by the G7 as a loan and then secured against the profits of the assets that have been immobilised,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak puts his arm around the shoulder of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during a welcome ceremony at the G7 leaders’ summit at the Borgo Egnazia resort in Puglia
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was given a warm welcome by Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni (Christopher Furlong/PA)

He said the package would support Ukraine’s military and economic reconstruction, and also act as a deterrent to Vladimir Putin.

Some 285 billion dollars (£222 billion) worth of immobilised Russian assets are held in G7 jurisdictions.

The UK also announced £242 million in bilateral funding for Ukraine and 50 new sanctions designations and specifications.

They mark the UK’s first such measures that target vessels in Mr Putin’s shadow fleet, which Russia uses to circumvent UK and G7 sanctions to trade in Russian oil, Downing Street said.

The sanctions also take aim at the Moscow Stock Exchange and other institutions at the heart of Russia’s financial system. The US designated the Moscow Stock Exchange on June 12.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined G7 leaders as they gathered to watch a parachute drop at San Domenico Golf Club in Fasano, Italy
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (centre) meet a member of a parachute jump team (Christopher Furlong/PA)

Mr Sunak said it was a move to ramp up pressure and cut off Mr Putin’s ability to fund a prolonged conflict.

The Prime Minister also plans to press other leaders to recognise migration challenges “across the route” and to take collective action.

Mr Sunak and Ms Meloni have previously found common ground on migration. The Prime Minister travelled to Rome in 2023 to speak at her party’s annual gathering.

Mr Sunak touted his flagship Rwanda scheme – which he says will go ahead with deportations starting in July if his party is re-elected – during a recent trip to Austria.

Fifteen EU countries, including Austria, signed a letter last month calling on the European Commission to tighten migration policy and to look at third country schemes.