Leaders of the G7 pose for a group photo with the skydiving flag performers at Borgo Egnazia, near the town of Fasano in Apulia Region, Italy, on June 13, 2024. [Xinhua]

The three-day 2024 Group of Seven (G7) summit kicked off Thursday in Borgo Egnazia, a resort near the town of Fasano in southern Italy's Apulia region, amid protests.

The crises in Ukraine and the Middle East and the relations with the Global South top the agenda of the summit. The management of artificial intelligence (AI), issues facing Africa and climate change are also included in the key sessions.

Italy is holding the G7 rotating presidency this year. In addition to the G7 leaders, heads of state from over ten other countries and international organizations were invited to attend the conference.

On the first day, the group discussed a draft deal for a 50-billion-U.S. dollar loan to Ukraine, using frozen Russian assets as guarantees.

In her latest response Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that G7's plans will not benefit the West and may result in new economic crisis.

The United States and Japan each signed security agreements with Ukraine, making them the last two G7 members to sign such pacts.

Protests against the G7 summit are taking place in many places near the venue.

On the opening day, in Brindisi, a city 60 km away from the venue, protesters held Palestinian flags and displayed banners with slogans such as "Boycott the G7," "Stop Destroying the Planet," and "No More War." They criticized the G7 for failing to play a positive role in environmental protection, social justice, and maintaining peace.

Lukas Hufert, an art student from Germany, traveled to participate in the protest. He told Xinhua that the G7's handling of international affairs is "full of hypocrisy," likening it to a Trojan horse that appears grand but is filled with selfish schemes inside, "offering no help to the world's vulnerable groups."

The G7 comprises Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. 

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