From left to right, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono meet during a G7 at ministerial level in Dinard, Brittany, Friday, April 5, 2019. The G7 meeting is focus on cybersecurity, the trafficking of drugs, arms and migrants in Africa's troubled Sahel region, and fighting gender inequality. (Thibault Vandermersch/Pool Photo via AP)

G7 ministers hope to seal commitments on global challenges

April 06, 2019 - 6:23 am

DINARD, France (AP) — Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies were wrapping up a two-day meeting in the French seaside resort of Dinard on Saturday where they hope to seal joint commitments on a range of global challenges and lay the groundwork for August's G-7 summit in Biarritz.

Diplomats from G-7 countries, which includes the U.S., France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and the U.K., were working on a joint statement on the fight against trafficking drugs, arms and migrants in Africa's troubled Sahel region, fighting cybercrime and stopping sexual violence against women in conflict zones, especially in Africa.

But U.S. officials said that points of discord will also be discussed. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said that Washington will use the G-7 forum to galvanize support in recognizing American-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Guaidó has embarked on an international campaign to topple the socialist administration of Venezuela's president amid deepening unrest in the country, which has been plagued by nearly a month of power outages.

Washington seems to be at odds with Italy over its stance on the crisis-hit South American country as it is the sole G-7 state to not back Guaidó.

The U.S. and Canada have pursued a pro-active stance on widening support for Guaidó, according to French officials. But there has been widespread alarm after Guaidó was stripped of immunity by loyalists of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro earlier this week.

"With Juan Guaidó being stripped of his immunity ... we don't want the situation to escalate," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Dinard on Saturday.

"We are still of the opinion that free elections should take place during which Venezuelans can decide themselves who will lead the country," he added.

Italy has also irked EU and U.S. allies by becoming the first G-7 member to sign up to a contentious Chinese plan to build a Silk Road-style global trade network, the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

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