Major uncertainties loom over the forthcoming meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) scheduled in Italy on April 10 and April 11, Italian experts have said.
“I expect the G7 ministerial meeting to support the decision of the Unites States to launch the strike (in Syria),” Riccardo Alcaro, senior research fellow with the Institute for International Affairs (IAI) in Rome, told Xinhua.
“It is likely they will consider it as a proportionate response to a war crime,” he added.
It was widely believed that the latest developments in Syria, and especially the U.S. missile attack launched on a Syrian airbase on Friday, are expected to overshadow the agenda of the foreign ministerial meeting in Italy, at least partially.
As Italy holds the G7 rotating presidency this year, the officials will gather in the Tuscan city of Lucca, and their two-day round of talks will represent a relevant prelude for a major summit of the seven countries’ leaders in late May.
The meeting will also be attended by the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini.
Crucial topics “concerning global peace and security” — such as terrorism, Libya, Ukraine, and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue — were already waiting to be addressed, according to a statement by the Italian Foreign Ministry earlier this week.
However, the U.S. missile strike added uncertainty to the world situation. The strike was launched in retaliation to a suspected attack with chemical weapons, which hit a rebel-held city in northwest Syria on April 4.
Some 80 people, including many children, were believed to have died in the alleged nerve gas attack, for which the U.S. and other Western governments blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, without convincing evidence.
“It will be interesting to see whether the G7 foreign ministers would keep pressing for a negotiated solution (of the Syrian conflict), as Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni suggested,” Alcaro pointed out.
On Friday, Gentiloni expressed his backing to the U.S. air strike in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian forces. Yet, he also reiterated that Italy considers negotiations as the only way to reach a long-lasting solution to the six-year civil war in Syria.
The conflict should be solved through “negotiations including all rebel and regime forces” and taking place “under the aegis of the United Nations, and with Russia playing a crucial and constructive role”, Gentiloni stressed.
He told reporters the U.S. missile strike should not be intended as a first step in a military escalation, but as a “limited action”.
France and Germany would share such position, Gentiloni added after holding phone talks with the French President and the German Chancellor.
Security would also be high in the agenda of the G7 foreign ministers on Monday, also following the attack occurred in the Swedish capital Stockholm, where a lorry truck smashed into the crowd on a shopping street Friday afternoon, killing 4 people and wounding eight others.
The Swedish government said it appeared to be a terrorist attack.
On the terror threat, as well as on the other major topics to be addressed, however, no relevant changes seemed to be expected from the G7.
“I do not think there will relevant shifts in the G7’s position on these issues at the ministerial meeting,” Alcaro said.
The issue related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “is likely to be another major focus, and the G7 countries’ position on that is clear, since they all see the DPRK’s nuclear program as a possible threat to global peace and security, and all of them support negotiations as the best solution,” he explained.
It would not mean the G7 countries share a full consensus on all of the global topics, however.
“We should bear in mind that the G7 — besides rare exceptions in the past — is not meant as a body taking operational decisions,” Alcaro warned.
It was rather designed to allow the seven big countries to reach as much consensus as possible on major global issues, and such approach does not mean “the consensus would stretches to every kind of issue, or that the position of each single country is fully comprised in it”, he said. Enditem
Source: Alessandra Cardone, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh