G7 summit: Italy prepares to host, with the Pope set to appear

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Who would have imagined that the country whose notorious political volatility has ushered in almost 70 governments since World War Two would now be seen as the stable one as the others lose their footing?

That shaky situation in many G7 countries is contributing to low expectations among some observers.

“There are two levels to the G7: what’s the big narrative and what are the concrete deliverables – and on both counts, it looks like a very unlucky summit,” says Natalie Tocci, the director of the Italian Institute for International Affairs.

In comparison, she says, 2021 marked President Biden’s first G7, in which he re-committed to the multilateral order after the turbulent years of Donald Trump; and the last two years have seen a clear sense of solidarity in the West after the invasion of Ukraine.

“But now,” Ms Tocci warns, “if anything will come out of this summit, it’s the fear of a catastrophe playing out before our eyes,” with the urgency of reaching agreements before the possibility of new governments led by Donald Trump in the US and the far-right in France.

And what of those summit aims? The most likely to be fulfilled is a plan to loan Ukraine $50bn (€46bn; £39bn) from the interest on frozen Russian assets in the West.

Some parties, like the US, had mooted seizing the Russian assets altogether, thought to be worth around $300bn. But that was strongly opposed by others such as Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank, who argued it could set a dangerous precedent and potentially violate international law.

The new proposal, with the assets used as collateral for a loan, looks likely to be backed at this summit, giving cash-starved and war-weary Ukraine another vital lifeline.

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