On the agenda: Ukraine, ISIS, and Iran
President Obama is joining world leaders in Germany to discuss a wide range of global issues.
Along with the heads of the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union, Obama will talk about the global economy and climate change. Obama will also press his colleagues to keep the pressure up on Russia and Iran.
Here are three key things to watch for during the summit.
Talks on Ukraine-Russia
This year’s summit will be the second that excludes Russia and it occurs amid an escalation in violence in Eastern Ukraine. Fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers broke out earlier this week, killing and wounding dozens and delivering a fresh blow to the cease-fire both sides agreed to earlier this year. On Friday, Obama and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed “deep concern” about the ongoing crisis via telephone ahead of the summit. Obama pledged continued commitment to a diplomatic solution to the conflict, though administration officials said Thursday until a diplomatic agreement is reached sanctions against Russia should remain. “It’s very important coming out of these G7 meetings that the world is seen as speaking with one voice in support of those important consequences that have been imposed on Russia, and to demonstrate that Russia will continue to face those sanctions until a diplomatic solution is fully implemented,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.
The G7 summit will be the last time several key countries involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran will come together before a June 30 deadline on a deal. Obama is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with both Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom in which he’ll likely address the issue of Iran. French President Francois Hollande will also be in attendance. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Switzerland last week where he met with the Iranian Prime Minister in an attempt to end the ongoing negotiations and officials are still working on the deal in Vienna. At risk of further complicating negotiations is a recent report noted by the New York Times that Iran’s nuclear stockpiles have increased by 20% over the past 18 months—despite the Obama administration’s insistence that Iran had paused their program during the nuclear talks. Rhodes said Thursday the leaders will meet to ensure that they are in “lockstep” at the negotiating table.
Global Terror Threats
Though there will be plenty of working sessions about the global economy, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq will be in attendance to discuss the strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Obama and other world leaders are set to sit down with Abadi to discuss efforts to degrade ISIS and also discuss efforts to train Iraqi security forces. The meeting will be the first since ISIS forces captured Ramadi. The meeting also comes in the wake of critical statements from both sides. Members of the Obama Administration who have said that Iraqi military forces need to have the “will” to fight ISIS themselves. Prime Minister Abadi has said the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to help Iraq fight the terror group. Leaders from Nigeria and Tunisia will also be in attendance. The Tunisian president recently visited the White House, with Obama praising the country for its turnaround since the Arab Spring. The trip is President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria’s first as the newly inaugurated leader of the country and it comes as the amount of territory occupied by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram continues to shrink.