G7 japan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

What does the G7 actually stand for? And what is at stake at the annual summits in idyllic surroundings far from the centres of government?

Seven essential things to know about the G7:

1) The 1975 global economic crisis led German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing to the idea of a summit drawing in the major industrial powers. The aim was to discuss the state of the world economy and to seek approaches to solving global problems.

2) During the first summit at the Chateau de Rambouillet near Paris, the heads of state and government of France, Germany, the United States, Britain, Japan and Italy met. Canada was added a year later, creating the Group of Seven (G7) from the Group of Six (G6).

3) Russia became a full member in 2002, although the G8 survived only until 2013. Russia's annexation of the Crimea in 2014 led to the planned summit in Sochi on the Russian side of the Black Sea being abandoned. Instead, the G7 met without Russia in Brussels. There is currently no move for Russia to re-join.

4) When it was set up, the G7 was home to the seven leading industrial nations of the world. This is no longer the case. Taking into account the top 10 world economies, China at number two and  Brazil at number seven are left out.

5) Global economic issues were the focus in the initial years, and the summits were also known as global economic summits. These days international crises tend to take centre stage.

6) The G7 takes no mandatory decisions. The closing Leaders' Declaration is not binding in nature. The main point of the meetings is to exchange ideas on the most important issues facing the world.

7) Under the rotating presidency, the summit takes place in a different member country each year. Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted the summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria. This year the summit is being held in Ise-Shima in Japan.

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.