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G7 Foreign Ministers Convene in Hiroshima for Two-Day Meeting

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The Group of Seven (G7) meeting of foreign ministers in the Japanese city of Hiroshima kicked off on Sunday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The meeting is set to focus on countering terrorism, nuclear disarmament and shipping security, as well as addressing the crisis in Ukraine, Middle Eastern refugees, economic problems and the regional South China Sea dispute.

The flags of the G7 countries the US, Japan, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Germany flutter in the wind near the Schloss Elmau castle resort near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in southern Germany, where is being held a G7 summit on June 7, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The foreign ministers of the world's seven biggest economies are also set to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park at the invitation of the Japanese hosts. The memorial park is dedicated to the victims of the 1945 US nuclear attack, as well as to the indirect victims of the bomb. US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in Japan earlier on Sunday, is the first US head of foreign affairs to visit the city since the 1945 events.

The ministerial meeting is part of preparations for the G7 leaders meeting due to be held between May 26-27 on an island in the Mie prefecture, near the city of Shima.

The G7 currently consists of Germany, the United States, Canada, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Italy.

A press conference is due to take place at the close of the summit on Monday.

South China Sea

Territorial disputes are expected to be addressed even though Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed ahead of the meeting that the G7 ministerial should not focus on disputed territories.

Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan - Sputnik International
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Previously, Kerry expressed the United States' concern over the possible deployment of China's air defense systems to the contested South China Sea. China had also announced a possible creation of an air defense identification zone in the region, while US defense officials have stated that it will not be recognized by the United States.

The South China Sea contains a number of disputed islands. The Paracel Islands are controlled by China while being claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. The Spratly Islands are contested by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Japan has vowed to raise the South China Sea issue in Hiroshima, while South Korea was reportedly weary of the move due to Japan's own claims over Liancourt Rocks (Tokto islands), controlled by Korea and located in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

Russia

Last year's G7 summit in Germany discussed the anti-Russian sanctions imposed in the wake of Crimea's secession from Ukraine and rejoining with Russia, as well as the alleged Russian rule in the conflict in east Ukraine.

National flags of the G8 countries and the flag of the European Union fly near a logo of the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Thursday, July 13, 2006 - Sputnik International
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Russia had walked out of the G8 group of the world’s largest economies after a rift with other member states over its alleged role in the conflict in Ukraine, thus reducing the G8 to the G7 for the first time since 1998.

Earlier on Sunday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the G7 member states would consider Russia’s role in settling international conflicts next year and would decide on conditions for the country’s return to the Group of Eight. The resolution of most conflicts is impossible without Russia, he added.

Ukraine

The issue of Ukraine will be raised once more. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrived in Japan ahead of the meeting, holding talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Speaking at the Japan National Press Club, the Ukrainian president called on Japan and other G7 countries to influence Russia's policy toward Ukraine. Japan, which had joined anti-Russian sanctions, agreed to include the Ukrainian issue on the G7 agenda.

A private house destroyed by shelling inthe village of Chernukhino. - Sputnik International
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Ukraine’s southeast has been severely affected by Kiev’s special military operation, launched in Donetsk and Lugansk regions in April 2014. The operation was a response to local residents' refusal to recognize the new coup-installed government in the country.

The internationally-brokered Minsk peace deal was later signed, with the European Union and the United States insisting on the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions being subject to the fulfillment of the deal.

Nuclear Weapons

China North Korea Border - Sputnik International
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With the Iranian nuclear program now tightly regulated by international observers under the recent deal, North Korea will be the focus of the G7.

North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb in early January and put a satellite into orbit a month later, violating UN Security Council resolutions and triggering condemnation from the international community.

"In such a time, it is important to send a clear signal on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said earlier in April.

Terrorism

Syrian Army soldiers take positions on the outskirts of Syria's Raqqa region on February 19, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The G7 ministers plan to propose initiatives to increase international cooperation in countering terrorism.

Japan's foreign minister has proposed discussing the most urgent international issues, chiefly terrorism and extremism, Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yasuhisa Kawamura told RIA Novosti after initials talks.

"Ministers taking part in the meeting have discussed chaotic attacks and cruel actions conducted by terrorists, as well as resolving for the G7 to come forward with an initiative to strengthen international cooperation in the fight against terror and violent extremism," Kawamura said.

The ministers have confirmed a united stance on Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and the peace process in the Middle East, he added.

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