japan G7.jpg

Ise-Shima, Japan (dpa) – G7 leaders agreed Thursday on measures required to boost economic growth, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, while papering over disagreements between Tokyo and Berlin on the best approach to take.

The leaders, meeting in the Japanese resort of Ise-Shima, also had migration on the agenda for the first day of their two-day summit, alongside global trade issues and trouble hotspots including in Russia and the South China Sea.

"The world has a certain stable growth, but their are weaknesses, especially among the emerging economies, and there is a whole series of risks," Merkel said.

Japanese Prime Minister and summit host Shinzo Abe put the economy at the forefront of the two-day talks in the hope of winning support for coordinated fiscal stimulus. Abe is facing economic headwinds at home with his much-hyped "Abenomics" programme delivering disappointing results.

But Germany in particular is opposed to the stimulus-driven approach, which Merkel rejected during a visit by the Japanese premier earlier this month. Berlin favours structural reforms to boost the economy.

The leaders' joint statement, which will be published on Friday, is expected to espouse a mix of fiscal, monetary and structural policies aimed at boosting growth.

"I think we will manage to achieve a good communique that also accepts that there has to be a balance of all measures," Merkel said.

The leaders discussed trade policy, and reaffirmed their commitment to wrap up separate free trade negotiations the EU is conducting with both Japan and the US by the end of the year.

Germany, and other European leaders, are also using the summit to draw attention to the migration and refugee crisis, which saw more than 1 million people reach Europe last year, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa.

"We are aware that it is because of geography that the most responsibility is ... placed on Europe, however we would also like the global community to show solidarity," Tusk told journalists ahead of the summit.

Tusk said he would "appeal to G7 leaders" to boost public assistance to refugees and host communities and to espouse resettlement schemes and other forms of legal migration around the world.

Merkel said she did not expect "concrete numbers" from the G7, but said that a process had been set in motion, building on progress made at a humanitarian summit in Istanbul earlier this week.

Over dinner, the leaders were due to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and the role of Russia, which was excluded from the G8 in 2014 after annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Moscow is accused of supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, and has been hit with Western sanctions, with EU measures up for renewal at the end of July.

"Our stance vis-a-vis Russia, including economic sanctions, will remain unchanged as long as the Minsk agreements are not fully implemented," Tusk said, referring to the peace deal signed in the Belarusian capital.

The EU is "ready to continue with our sanctions," he added, noting that he expected a decision within the next three weeks.

Other regional flashpoints raised during the summit include Chinese claims over the South China Sea, a key shipping lane that is also claimed in various parts by five neighbouring countries.

"Any maritime or territorial claim should be based on the international law," Tusk said. "Unilateral actions and the use of force or coercion will not be accepted."

But China lashed out, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying that the G7 should "concentrate on dealing with its inner issues, rather than interfering in other country['s business]."

Before the start of the summit, Abe took the G7 leaders to the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred site in Shinto, Japan's indigenous religion.

The G7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, while the EU is also takes part. Italy will host the 2017 summit on the Italian island of Sicily, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced on his website.

Latest news

S Africa opposition sues government for not arresting Sudan president

South Africa’s main opposition party Friday filed criminal charges against several government and police officials for failing in 2015 to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Project Slavonia one of key government goals, PM says

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday opened the 22nd international fair of the economy, trades and crafts and agriculture Viroexpo 2017, saying it fit into one of the government's key goals, work on Project Slavonia.

Germany says Russia plan for Reichstag replica 'speaks for itself'

A Russian plan to construct a replica of the Reichstag so that military enthusiasts can re-enact the Red Army's 1945 capture of Berlin is "surprising and speaks for itself," a German government spokeswoman said Friday.

Transport minister does not rule out higher motorway tolls

Commenting on a planned rise in tolls for motorways managed by the state-run HAC motorway operator, Maritime, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic on Friday recalled that HAC's debt totalled EUR 5.2 billion, and 1.2 billion of that amount was due this year, which HAC could not pay back from its revenues.

Proposal to give advantage to jobseekers who served in army slammed

Labour and Pension System Minister Tomislav Coric said on Friday the proposal by HVIDRA veterans association president Josip Djakic, that persons who served in the army should be given preferential treatment while seeking for jobs in the state administration and state-owned companies, was not good.

Film directors, producers pleased with meeting with presidential advisers

Representatives of the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild and the Croatian Producers Association said on Friday they were pleased with today's meeting at the president's office, where they discussed the current developments with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) with two presidential advisers.

German foreign minister: Positive Trump comment on EU is 'good news'

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomes US President Donald Trump's recent positive comments on the European Union, calling them "good news," during a press conference Friday.

South African police disperse anti-migrant rally

South African police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse anti-immigration demonstrators and their opponents in the country’s administrative capital of Pretoria, local media reported Friday.

Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian reporters back striking Macedonian colleagues

Trade unions of journalists from Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia on Friday expressed their support to their Macedonian colleagues working for three daily newspapers owned by Media Print Makedonija (MPM) who have been on strike since mid-February over unpaid salaries and contributions and the management's failure to provide them with information about plans for the company's survival.

Hribar's statements prompt HRT Supervisory Board to demand human rights' protection

The Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) Programming Council is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, 28 February, to discuss, among other things, "the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms in HRT programmes" as requested by the national broadcaster's Supervisory Board.

Iraq launches its first airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria

Iraq launched its first airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside Syria on Friday, retaliation for recent deadly attacks by the extremist militia in Baghdad, the Iraqi army said.

SDP urges gov't to put situation in Bosnia on EU and NATO agendas

Croatia's largest opposition party has called on the government to put the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the EU and NATO agendas saying that reactions by some political groups in that country to the submission of the motion to the ICJ to review its ruling against Serbia could lead to serious political instability and threaten the functioning of the state.