G7 leaders urge tough line on Russia at Alpine summit

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Group of Seven (G7) leaders vowed at a summit in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday to keep sanctions against Russia in place until President Vladimir Putin and Moscow-backed separatists fully implement the terms of a peace deal for Ukraine.

The Ukraine conflict and a long-running debt standoff between Greece and its European partners dominated the first day of the annual meeting hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel at Schloss Elmau, a luxury Alpine hotel in southern Germany.

Merkel is hoping to secure commitments from her G7 guests to tackle global warming ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Paris in December.

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G7 leaders urge tough line on Russia at Alpine summit
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) gestures while chatting with US President Barack Obama sitting on a bench outside the Elmau Castle after a working session of a G7 summit near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, second left, points during a group photo of G-7 leaders and Outreach guests at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. Other leaders from left, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, European Council President Donald Tusk, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, center right, gather with others for a group photo of G-7 leaders and Outreach guests at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. Other leaders are front row left to right, Ethiopian President Hailemariam Desalegn, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi, Senegal President Macky Sall, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, French President Francois Hollande, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, walks with U.S. President Barack Obama after a group photo at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Sunday, June 7, 2015. The two-day summit will address such issues as climate change, poverty and the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
IDENTITY CORRECTION (L-clockwise) IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder, Director-General of the World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo, World Bank Group President Jim Kim, Chair of the Commission of the African Union Dlamini Zuma, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Barack Obama, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, French President Francois Hollande, Senegal's President Macky Sall attend the second working session of a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 8, 2015. Germany hosts a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle on June 7 and June 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, greets Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde during arrivals of G-7 leaders and Outreach guests at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. G-7 leaders, in a second and final day of the conference, were set to tackle the difficult issue of climate change and fighting terrorism. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, front left, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, front right, and, back row from left, Chair of the Commission of the African Union Dlamini Zuma, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, US President Barack Obama and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attend the fourth working session of the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday June 8, 2015. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, greets Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma during arrivals of G-7 leaders and Outreach guests at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. G-7 leaders, in a second and final day of the conference, were set to tackle the difficult issue of climate change and fighting terrorism. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, left, are photographed as they participate in a bilateral meeting during the G-7 summit in Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, greets United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during arrivals of G-7 leaders and Outreach guests at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. G-7 leaders, in a second and final day of the conference, were set to tackle the difficult issue of climate change and fighting terrorism. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, center, and U.S. President Barack Obama, right, prior to the third working session at the G-7 summit in Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, second right, walks with G-7 leaders prior to a group photo at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Sunday, June 7, 2015. The two-day summit will address such issues as climate change, poverty and the situation in Ukraine. From left, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Francois Hollande, European Council President Donald Tusk, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron shake hands as they participate in a bilateral meeting during the G-7 summit in Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Sunday, June 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama, from right, arrive for the first plenary session of the G-7 summit in Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Sunday, June 7, 2015. (Peter Kneffel/Pool Photo via AP)
KRUEN, GERMANY - JUNE 7: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) attend a concert at Schloss Elmau within the G7 Summit in Kruen, Germany on June 7, 2015. (Photo by Goran Gajanin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama during a concert at the G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Sunday, June 7, 2015. The two-day summit will address such issues as climate change, poverty and the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)
US President Barack Obama and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a working dinner at a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. Germany hosts a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle on June 7 and June 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
(From front L, clockwise) President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attend a working dinner at a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. Germany hosts a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle on June 7 and June 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
(From front L, clockwise) President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attend a working dinner at a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. Germany hosts a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle on June 7 and June 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and the wife of Canada's Prime Minister Laureen Harper attend a concert at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND (Photo credit should read KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - JUNE 07: U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sit down for a working dinner at the summit of G7 nations at Schloss Elmau on June 7, 2015 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. In the course of the two-day summit G7 leaders are scheduled to discuss global economic and security issues, as well as pressing global health-related issues, including antibiotics-resistant bacteria and Ebola. Several thousand protesters have announced they will seek to march towards Schloss Elmau and at least 17,000 police are on hand to provide security. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French President Francois Hollande attend a working dinner at a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. Germany hosts a G7 summit at the Elmau Castle on June 7 and June 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ROBERT MICHAEL (Photo credit should read ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) The wife of Canada's Prime Minister Laureen Harper, US President Barack Obama, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, her husband Joachim Sauer, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron attend a concert at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND (Photo credit should read KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) US President Barack Obama, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, her husband Joachim Sauer and French President Francois Hollande attend a concert at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND (Photo credit should read KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
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The German agenda also foresees discussions on global health issues, from Ebola to antibiotics and tropical diseases. But Ukraine took center stage on Sunday, with U.S. President Barack Obama calling for "standing up to Russian aggression".

The leaders want Russia and Ukraine to comply with a Feb. 12 ceasefire agreed in the Belarus capital Minsk that largely halted fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

EU leaders agreed in March that sanctions imposed over Russia's seizure and annexation of Crimea and detribalization of eastern Ukraine would stay until the Minsk ceasefire was fully applied, effectively extending them to the end of the year, but a formal decision has yet to be taken.

Merkel said any easing of the sanctions depended largely on Russia and its behavior in Ukraine.

European Council President Donald Tusk went further, saying: "If anyone wants to start a discussion about changing the sanctions regime, it could only be about strengthening it."

European monitors have blamed a recent upsurge in violence in eastern Ukraine on the pro-Moscow separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin was frozen out of what used to be the G8 after Moscow's annexation of Crimea last year.

GREEK CRISIS

Before the summit, Merkel held a bilateral meeting with Obama and they attended an outdoor party in the idyllic Alpine village of Kruen under blue skies, surrounded by Bavarians in traditional dress.

The U.S. and German leaders reaffirmed their nations' friendship, after a recent deterioration in ties due to revelations of widespread surveillance of German citizens, including Merkel's phone, by the U.S. National Security Agency.

"My message to the German people is simple: We are grateful for your friendship, for your leadership," said Obama, using the traditional Bavarian greeting "Gruess Gott" with a crowd gathered in the village square in Kruen. "We stand together as inseparable allies in Europe and around the world."

On Greece, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker voiced exasperation with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has dismissed the latest aid-for-reform proposal from international creditors as "absurd".

A White House spokesman said Obama discussed the debt crisis with Merkel and hopedGreece and its partners could find a solution that enabled Athens to reform and return to growth without turmoil on global financial markets.

Athens is running out of cash and will default on its debt, a move that could end up pushing it out of the euro zone, if it fails to reach a deal with its euro zone and International Monetary Fund creditors in the coming weeks.

Juncker reaffirmed that a so-called "Grexit" was not an option being considered, but said this did not mean he could "pull a rabbit out of a hat" to prevent it if Greece made no effort to reform its public finances.

PROTESTS

Japan said it would favor the G7 countries setting their own target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, in a boost for efforts to combat global warming.

A spokesman for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said when asked whether the G7 should set its own specific goal: "The best scenario would be yes but... let's wait (until) tomorrow's G7 leaders' discussion."

He was speaking after Abe met French President Francois Hollande, who will host the Paris climate talks at the end of the year.

Leaders and reporters were shuttled to the summit site by helicopter on Sunday morning after hundreds of protesters blocked the main road to Schloss Elmau.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-G7 protesters marched in the nearby town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There were sporadic clashes with police and several marchers were taken to hospital with injuries, but the violence was minor compared to some previous summits.

Germany deployed 17,000 police around the former Winter Olympic games venue at the foot of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Another 2,000 were on stand-by across the border in Austria.

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