Representatives of the seven major democratic industrial nations (G-7) began their summit in Hiroshima, Japan on Friday.
The summit started by remembering those killed by the atomic bomb dropped on the city at the end of World War II.
The heads of state and government visited the memorial to the victims of the bomb dropped by the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 6, 1945, laying floral wreaths presented to them by Japanese schoolchildren at a cenotaph in the city’s Peace Memorial Park.
The bomb devastated the city, killing an estimated 70,000 people immediately and a further 70,000 to 80,000 over the following months.
A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later.
The bombs were the first use of a nuclear weapon, and nuclear weapons have not been used since.
The three-day meeting will focus on Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine, expanding sanctions on Moscow, and how to deal with a more assertive China and its claim over Taiwan.
In a surprise move, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to attend the summit in person.
Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Oleksiy Danilov confirmed on state television that Zelensky would attend the summit, according to reports.
The Japanese government had previously said that Zelensky would take part in discussions at the summit online.
Several U.S. media reported on Friday, citing unspecified official sources, that Zelensky was expected in person at the summit on Sunday.
Zelensky had travelled through several G-7 countries in the past few days and had appealed for further support from his partners during visits to Rome, Berlin, Paris and London.
Prior to the summit opening, China accused the United States of coercive diplomacy in a lengthy report.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs alleged that the U.S. had a “very disgraceful ‘dark history’ in coercive diplomacy,.
“The U.S. is used to accusing other countries of using great power status, coercive policies and economic coercion to coerce other countries to obey and engage in coercive diplomacy.
“Countries around the world have suffered, with developing countries bearing the brunt of it, and even U.S.’ allies and partners have not been spared.’’
Japan currently holds the G7 presidency of the group, which also included the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada. (dpa/NAN)