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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN /Germany/, June 8. /TASS/. It is too premature to speak about resuming the Group of Eight format, Japan’s Prime Minister Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told journalists on Monday after the Group of Seven summit at Elmau Castle in Germany’s Bavaria.
He said that judging by the current situation in Ukraine it was hardly imaginable that the next summit in 2016 in his country could be held in the Group of Eight format, i.e. involving Russia. However, he noted, at this year’s summit some leaders had spoken in favour of continuing constructive dialogue with Russia to solve international problems, such as the crisis in Syria and the Iranian nuclear programme. He said he shared this position.
The Group of Seven (G7) is an association of economically developed countries consisting of Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States, France and Japan. Its key goals are to seek solutions to global political and social problems. In 1976-1997 the group existed in the format of G7. After Russia joined G7, the association got the name of the Group of Eight (G8). In March 2014, as a result of the events in Ukraine and the following crisis in Russia-West relations, the organization decided to return to the G7 format.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier Russia was "not clinging to the G8 format." "The G8 is an informal club, no one issues membership cards, no one may expel anyone from there by definition. If our Western partners believe the format is outdated, let it be like that. We are not clinging to it," he said.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the Group of Seven countries are interested in Russia’s coming back to the international arena to solve crisis situation.
He said that all participants in the summit were interested in Russia’s being back on the international arena, since they all recognized Russia’s important role and contribution it may make in solving such crises and the ones in Syria and in other countries.
The Italian prime minister stressed that the key barometer of the moment was the degree of implementation of the Minsk agreement [on the Ukrainian settlement]. In his words, if these agreements were implemented it would be a breakthrough for both Ukraine and its Russian-speaking eastern regions.
He refrained from comments on possible toughening of anti-Russian sanctions until the next meeting of the Council of Europe due on June 25-26.