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Ukraine war

G7 leaders speak with Ukraine’s Zelensky, agree to Russian diamond ban

G7 leaders speak with Ukraine’s Zelensky, agree to Russian diamond ban
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) taking part in a meeting with commanders at the headquarters of the Defense Forces near a frontline close to Kupiansk during his working trip to Kharkiv region, Ukraine, 30 November 2023. President Zelenskyy and Defense Minister Rustem Umerov listened to a report on the operational situation in that area and hand State awards to Ukrainian servicemen. EPA-EFE/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT

TOKYO/WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - US President Joe Biden and leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries met virtually on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a show of solidarity and agreed to a new ban on Russian diamonds.

Under the new measures, the countries will ban non-industrial diamonds from Russia by January and Russian diamonds sold by third countries from March, according to a joint statement released after the meeting.

Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s biggest diamond producing company, declined to comment.

On the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, the leaders said “more effective action” is needed to limit the displacement of mass numbers of civilians and expressed support for more pauses in the fighting to get more aid in.

“More urgent action is needed to address the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza and minimize civilian casualties,” they said. Israeli forces have killed at least 16,016 Palestinians since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, which killed 1,200 people, according to Palestinian and Israeli authorities.

The leaders also planned to tighten controls on Russia’s use of the international financial system and to impose more sanctions to enforce a price cap on Russian oil.

The measures came as Biden pleaded with Congress to fund his weeks-old request for billions of dollars more in Ukraine assistance, saying it was an “urgent responsibility” and would keep US allies behind Ukraine. The US plans to announce $175 million in additional military aid for Ukraine on Wednesday, according to a US official.

During the meeting, Zelensky called for continued support for Ukraine.

“Russia believes that America and Europe will show weakness and will not maintain support for Ukraine at the proper level. Putin believes that the free world will not fully enforce its own sanctions,” he said, according to remarks posted to the president’s website.

“The free world vitally needs to maintain its consolidation, maintain interaction, maintain support for those whose freedom is being attacked.”

The G7 members, comprising Japan, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the European Union, pledged in May to restrict exports to Russia that could fund its war effort in Ukraine.

A statement issued at the time said the restrictions would cover exports of industrial machinery, tools and technology and it would also try to limit Russian revenues from trade in metals and diamonds.

Western nations have admitted that the impact of their $60 price cap on Russian crude oil has waned one year in, and the countries have been looking at ways to strengthen implementation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that were also expected to include Ukraine.

(Reporting by John Geddie, Sakura Murakami in Tokyo, Julia Payne in Brussels, Trevor Hunnicutt, Steve Holland and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington, and Yuliia Dysa in Gdansk; Additional reporting by Kevin Liffey; Writing by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Costas Pitas, Christopher Cushing and Josie Kao)

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