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G-7 leaders to wrap up summit, leaving several issues unresolved

The second day of a Group of Seven summit begins on Aug. 25, 2019, in the southwestern French city of Biarritz. (Pool photo, Kyodo)

BIARRITZ, France (Kyodo) -- The leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations are scheduled to wrap up their three-day summit on Monday, leaving unresolved several key issues such as trade and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

On the final day of their gathering in the French resort town of Biarritz, the G-7 countries are expected to exchange views on the recent unrest in Hong Kong and a series of North Korean test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles, a senior Japanese government official said.

In Hong Kong, large-scale demonstrations have continued in opposition to a controversial extradition bill that could enable the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China. On Sunday, a Hong Kong police officer fired a warning gunshot for the first time in the city's months-long protest movement.

Since July 25, meanwhile, North Korea has carried out seven launches of projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles, in what Japan says is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions barring Pyongyang from using ballistic technology.

During the first two days, the G-7 leaders discussed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which the United States withdrew last year, Russia's potential return to the group's framework and an escalating tit-for-tat tariff trade war between Washington and Beijing.

The G-7 members shared the view on Saturday that for the sake of peace and stability in the region, Iran should not possess nuclear weapons, but they differed in their approaches to finding a resolution to the issue.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made an unannounced trip to Biarritz at the invitation of his French counterpart. Zarif did not hold talks with U.S. officials.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed for a return of Russia to the G-7 group, other member nations remained opposed due largely to a lack of progress on Russia's annexation of Crimea, sources familiar with the debate said.

Russia was dropped from the then Group of Eight after its annexation of the territory from Ukraine in 2014, which sparked an international outcry.

Regarding the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies, the G-7 agreed Sunday to take "every possible measure" to tackle global economic downside risks, but has yet to elaborate what kind of steps it can implement.

With some G-7 leaders having criticized Trump's pursuit of protectionist policies aimed at benefiting U.S. firms, French President Emmanuel Macron as this year's host has indicated a post-summit joint communique will not be issued for the first time in the group's 44-year history.

In the previous G-7 summit in Canada in 2018, Trump abruptly backed off from a joint communique, which sums up the leaders' discussions, at the last minute after engaging in a war of words with the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, over trade policy.

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