The Cable

3 Big Takeaways From the G-7 Summit

Talking tough on Syria, divided over climate.

rex at g7

Ahead of the leaders’ summit of the Group of Seven countries in Sicily this May, foreign and energy ministers gathered in Italy — in Lucca and Rome, respectively — for two-day confabs on the geopolitical happenings in the world.

Here is what’s come out of it so far:

The G-7 is talking tough on Syria. Perhaps because it follows the U.S. strike on a Syrian airbase, much of the talk on the first day of the summit focused on getting Russia to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who recently cancelled his trip to Moscow, suggested new sanctions on Russia for its involvement in Syria. Johnson also said that G-7 would ask Tillerson to put pressure on his Russian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, when the two sit down this week in Moscow.

“What we’re trying to do is to give Rex Tillerson the clearest possible mandate from us as the West, the U.K., all our allies here, to say to the Russians ‘this is your choice: stick with that guy, stick with that tyrant, or work with us to find a better solution,’” Johnson told reporters.

The Telegraph reported that the G-7 may dangle Russian readmittance into its club as a carrot to entice Russia out of Syria, though Russia was kicked out of the then-G-8 not over Syria, but over its 2014 annexation of Crimea. But it does not seem Russia shall be moved. “Returning to pseudo-attempts to resolve the crisis by repeating mantras that Assad must step down cannot help sort things out,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov told reporters on Monday.

Can’t energy ministers all just get along? No, they cannot. On the second day of their own summit, G-7 energy ministers failed to reach an agreement on climate change. According to the chair of the meeting, Italian Minister for Economic Development Carlo Calenda, this is because the United States “reserved its position” on the Paris climate agreement. Team Trump is apparently split on whether or not to pull out of the Paris Agreement, or just defang it. Until they figure it out, the G-7 will remain split, too.

The United States is the odd man out. The G-7 is made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. Although the seven were able to come together over their shared recognition that Assad is not good, the United States is now the odd man out, not just when it comes to climate change, but also on issues like trade. And Syria may not be a strong enough glue to bind the club together, with Washington insisting that defeating the Islamic State remains the top priority there, but giving no indications of any broader strategy to end the war or temper Russian involvement.

Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a foreign affairs reporter at BuzzFeed. She was a staff writer at Foreign Policy from 2016-2018. @emilyctamkin

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