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LIVERPOOL, England, December 11 (Reuters) – The Group of Seven, the wealthiest democracies, on Saturday sought to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, standing united to warn of the dire consequences of any incursion and urging Moscow to return to the negotiating table.
Led by British Foreign Minister Liz Truss, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada met in Liverpool, in the north of England.
The G7 meeting comes as the West worries about China’s military and economic ambitions, the possibility that talks to stop Iran from continuing on the nuclear weapons path could fail, and as Russia mass of troops on the Ukrainian border.
A senior US State Department official called the day’s talks “intense” and said there was still a diplomatic channel to defuse tensions with Russia.
“If they (Russia) choose not to go this route, there will be massive consequences and high costs in response, and the G7 is absolutely united in this regard,” she said. “The types of costs we’re talking about are designed to be implemented very, very quickly. “
Addressing the opening session of the talks, British Foreign Minister Liz Truss urged the G7 to speak with one voice.
“We must defend ourselves against the growing threats from hostile actors and we must unite firmly to resist the aggressors who seek to limit the limits of freedom and democracy,” said at the start of the meeting.
Ukraine is at the center of a crisis in East-West relations as it accuses Russia of assembling tens of thousands of troops for a possible large-scale military offensive.
Russia denies planning any attack and accuses Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior, and has said it needs security guarantees for its own protection.
“We must take all necessary measures to resume dialogue,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters. Germany will take over the rotating leadership of the G7 from Britain next year.
Washington is sending its top diplomat for Europe, Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried, to Ukraine and Russia from December 13 to 15 to meet with senior government officials.
“Deputy Secretary Donfried will stress that we can make diplomatic progress to end the conflict in Donbass through the implementation of the Minsk accords in favor of the Normandy format,” the US State Department said in a statement.
Ministers arrived at the Liverpool Museum with a marching band playing Christmas carols, before starting closed-door meetings covering development finance, geopolitics and security. They later set off to admire the city’s musical heritage over dinner at an exhibit telling the story of the Beatles.
Britain calls on G7 members to be more vocal in their defense of what it calls “the free world”, and talks have focused on Russia, China and Iran throughout the day . A statement on the outcome of the talks is expected on Sunday.
The United States, Britain, France and Germany met late Friday evening to discuss the way forward on Iran, following the resumption of talks in Vienna on relaunching a 2015 nuclear agreement. Read more
Sunday’s statement is expected to include a joint call for Iran to moderate its nuclear program and seize the opportunity to relaunch a multilateral deal under which Iran limits its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
Reporting by William James, Humeyra Pamuk and Alexander Ratz; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Ros Russell and Mike Harrison, William Maclean
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