Group of Seven leaders pledged to support Ukraine as long as the nation faces Russia's illegal aggression, while putting pressure on China to play a role in ending the war, in a communique released Saturday, the second day of their three-day summit in Hiroshima.

The statement was issued minutes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Japan to attend the G-7 summit in the western city, devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945, amid fears that Russia may use a nuclear weapon against its neighbor.

The G-7 promised to strengthen disarmament and nonproliferation efforts to achieve the "ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons," reflecting the vision advocated by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who represents a Hiroshima constituency.

(L-R) President of the European Council Charles Michel, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose for a commemorative photo during the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, western Japan, on May 20, 2023. (Kyodo)

Initially, the communique had been supposed to be published on the closing day of the gathering, but it was released earlier than planned, possibly to set the stage for Zelenskyy and the Ukraine crisis to capture the limelight at the G-7 summit.

The statement also urged China to press Russia to stop its war against Ukraine, while calling on the Communist-led government, which regards self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, to resolve issues over the democratic island in a peaceful manner.

Expressing serious concern about the situation in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been stepping up territorial claims, the statement said that the G-7 leaders "strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion."

China's growing military and economic assertiveness in the nearby waters, including the Taiwan Strait, has triggered Sino-U.S. tensions, jeopardizing regional security. China and Taiwan have been separately governed since they split in 1949 due to a civil war.

Beijing has been lambasting the G-7 for contriving to establish international rules within a small group of countries.

Gist of communique at G-7 summit in Hiroshima

The G-7:

-- vows steps to support Ukraine in face of Russia's illegal war.

-- vows efforts toward ultimate goal of world without nuclear weapons.

-- opposes any unilateral attempts to change status quo by force.

-- urges China to press Russia to stop aggression against Ukraine.

-- stands ready to build constructive, stable relations with China.

-- calls for peaceful resolution of Taiwan issues with China.

-- vows to launch platform to boost deterrence against economic coercion.

-- strongly condemns North Korea's unlawful ballistic missile launches.

-- calls for North Korea's complete abandonment of nuclear weapons.

-- vows to make efforts to maintain financial stability, spur growth.

-- vows to begin discussions on rules on generative AI by year-end.

-- vows to work together to accelerate clean energy transactions.

-- vows to promote universal human rights, gender equality.

The Group of Seven leaders, plus those of invited countries and international organizations, attend a session of the three-day G-7 summit on its second day on May 20, 2023, in the western Japan city of Hiroshima. (Pool photo)(Kyodo) ==Kyodo

With some democracies adversely affected by the utilization of "economic coercion" by authoritarian nations, the G-7 said it will launch a platform to prevent such practices from being used as a tool to pursue political objectives, with China apparently in mind.

The statement underscored the importance of bolstering supply chains for critical industrial materials, such as semiconductors, and taking necessary measures to counter unilateral trade restrictions.

Earlier in the day, the G-7 leaders agreed to increase energy and development assistance to emerging and developing countries, with anxiety mounting that China is engaging in "debt-trap diplomacy" using loans as leverage to gain concessions from borrowing nations.

The G-7 countries, meanwhile, said in the communique that they "stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China," emphasizing the significance of dialogue with the Asian power for regional peace and stability.

Touching on the severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the G-7 also condemned North Korea's "unprecedented number of unlawful ballistic missile launches," calling for it to completely abandon nuclear weapons and its existing development programs.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (far L) and his wife, Yuko (far R), pose for photos with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, at the venue of a Group of Seven summit in the western Japan city of Hiroshima on May 20, 2023. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

On other issues, the G-7 vowed to work to accelerate clean energy transactions, begin discussions to hammer out rules on how to use generative artificial intelligence by the end of this year, and promote universal human rights, gender equality and human dignity.

The agreement on the fast-growing technology comes as risks stemming from generative AI, which can utilize vast amounts of data from the internet and other sources to generate text, images, or other media in a human-like way, have drawn attention recently.

Gender equality has been coming under the spotlight in Japan after Kishida sacked a close aide who made discriminatory remarks against sexual minorities in February.

On the economic front, the G-7 agreed to strive to maintain financial stability and spur growth to mitigate the negative impact of the collapse of three major U.S. regional banks -- Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank -- earlier this year.

The leaders of the Group of Seven advanced countries pose for a photo on the second day of a three-day G-7 summit in the western Japan city of Hiroshima on May 20, 2023, alongside the leaders of invited countries and international organizations. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The summit follows efforts by G-7 countries to deepen ties with emerging and developing nations as Russia and China seek to reinforce their economic and military cooperation in a development seen as destabilizing security across the globe.

At the summit, the leaders from the advanced economies agreed on taking steps to safeguard food security threatened by Russia's 15-month-old aggression against Ukraine. Zelenskyy is making his first trip to Japan since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Kishida, the host of the G-7 summit, has been eager to consolidate relations with emerging and developing countries in the "Global South," and invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Hiroshima summit.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet in Hiroshima on May 20, 2023, on the sidelines of a three-day Group of Seven summit in the western Japan city. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

India, a key member of the Global South, has been reluctant to implement sanctions against Russia as New Delhi is highly dependent on Moscow for military and energy supplies.

Many other nations in the Global South have also avoided taking sides over Moscow's invasion of its neighbor, fanning concerns that they could get closer to Russia and China as Beijing is keen to boost its regional clout in the economic and military fields.

On Saturday, Kishida and Modi, whose country chairs the Group of 20 economies this year, held talks on the sidelines of the summit and agreed to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law, the Foreign Ministry said.

The G-7 groups Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.

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