President Biden began his abbreviated trip to Asia on Thursday in Hiroshima, a city symbolized by the danger of nuclear devastation, and prepared for discussions with his closest allies on two key issues. issue: how to better arm Ukraine as it embarks on its counter-offensive against Russian invaders, and how to slow, or halt, the downward spiral in relations with China.
Both are now familiar topics among the leaders of the Group of 7 nations, which have grown tighter, and remain surprisingly united, since Russia began attacking Ukraine 15 months ago. But at some point in the three-day discussions, G7 leaders are also expected to enter new territory: the first conversation among the world’s largest democratic economies about a common approach. to regulate the use of generative artificial intelligence programs such as GPT-4.
Artificial intelligence was not on the early agenda as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida invited six other leaders – joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and, via video or in person, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine – to the prefecture of Japan where he got his political. start
But while the new model of artificial intelligence language from OpenAI makes countries around the world focus for the first time on the possibilities of disinformation, chaos and the physical destruction of critical infrastructure, the national security adviser of Mr. Biden, Jake Sullivan, began calling the search partners. a common discussion.
It is not clear that this group of leaders – the G7 also includes Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – can continue a conversation on a technology that seems to have quickly burst onto the scene, even if it years in the making. . Previous efforts to get the group to tackle more straightforward cybersecurity issues have often turned into platitudes about “public-private partnerships,” and there’s been no serious discussion of rules to guide their use. destructive cyberweapons.
American officials say that in the case of chatbots, even a vague foundational discussion can help establish some shared principles: that corporations that bring products using large language models are primarily responsible for their safety, and there must be rules of transparency. which explains what type of data each system is trained on. That will enable lower-level aides to discuss the details of what the first regulations will look like, officials said.
But as G7 leaders gather starting Friday, it will be Ukraine that will dominate the conversation, at a critical time for Mr. Zelensky, for Ukraine and for core Western democracies now seized with a urgent mission to bring about what Mr. Biden. calls “Russia’s strategic defeat in Ukraine.”
Mr. Biden has always said that Russia has lost. But the fear permeating the seven major democracies here is that unless the counteroffensive proves highly successful, Ukraine will settle into a bloody, frozen conflict in which the best hope is an armistice, reminiscent of the one who stopped fighting the Koreans. Peninsula 70 years ago this summer.
Such a confrontation seemed almost impossible to imagine in 1997, when President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited Russia to become a full member of the group, expanding it – for almost two decades – to in the G8. Russia was “suspended” after its annexation of Crimea in 2014, and it left the group three years later.
Now, with his troops already intent on destroying Russian weapons depots ahead of the counter-offensive, Mr. Zelensky recently completed a series of rapid visits to European capitals to support continued heavy spending on armaments and aid. He is expected to speak with Hiroshima leaders virtually, but there are discussions behind the scenes about whether to risk being taken to the other side of the world to make his case.
Either way, he has a large audience. Apart from India, the leaders of Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam will all attend as guests. It is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Biden and his allies to persuade countries that, to varying degrees, have been fence-sitters in the war in Ukraine, refusing to condemn the Russia is too harsh, to enthusiastically implement sanctions, or to provide weapons to. Ukraine.
Some of the core members are seeking to arm Mr. Zelensky in ways that may exceed Mr. Biden’s willingness. While he was in Britain, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, embraced Mr. Zelensky in a bear hug and told reporters, “They need the continued support of the international community to defend against the looming -ong incessant and indiscriminate attacks that they commit daily. reality for more than a year. We must not let them down.”
Britain and the Netherlands pressured Washington to allow Ukraine to begin training in the use of F-16 fighter jets. But just as Mr. Biden was initially reluctant to turn over HIMARS and Patriot missile batteries and other technologies, he has been cautious about the F-16, a plane that can easily reach, and hit, the Kremlin.
So the United States seems likely to argue in Hiroshima that fighter jets, though symbolically impressive, would be so expensive that it would come at the price of deploying more useful, cheap systems, including proven air defenses. -an amazingly successful take. under incoming Russian missiles. The apparent damage to at least part of the new Patriot missile battery in Kyiv this week highlights the fact that such systems are valuable.
Mr. Biden has always been cautious — too cautious in the minds of Mr. Zelensky and some NATO allies — about providing weapons to Ukraine that he believes could lead to a rapid escalation of the war and hinder -or threats by the Russian leader, Vladimir V. Putin, to use tactical nuclear weapons.
Britain has recently begun supplying Ukraine with another precision weapon of greater range than the American-provided HIMARS, a missile system called Storm Shadow. Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, told reporters in Washington last week that Mr. Putin’s threats of escalation are now more hollow, and that these are “gates that must be crossed.”
For Mr. Kishida, the host, navigating nuclear issues is not uncommonly difficult. The summit will open with Mr. Biden visiting the landmark atomic dome, making him the second American president to see the site of the atomic bombing ordered by President Harry S. Truman. (President Obama came in 2016, and Mr. Kishida was one of his site guides.)
Like many political leaders in Japan, Mr. Kishida in his career the gradual elimination of nuclear weapons. But he and other Japanese politicians also agree that Mr. Putin’s threats make American “extended deterrence” under its nuclear umbrella more important to Japan’s strategy now than it has been in years.
G7 officials will also deal with declining relations between China and the United States. Mr. Sullivan, the national security adviser, spent two days in Vienna last week with Wang Yi, China’s top foreign affairs official, in what was widely described as an effort to restore communications after the US decision to shoot down a Chinese surveillance balloon. on the coast of South Carolina.
Officials have said little about the meeting, but China appears to have told Mr. Sullivan that they are open again to visits by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and, eventually, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
Mr. Biden, who on Tuesday canceled additional stops on his trip to Papua New Guinea and Australia so he could return Sunday to the United States to deal with debt ceiling negotiations, said Wednesday that he was trying to meet – also the leader of China, Xi Jinping. That’s a sign that the freeze in relations in recent months may begin to stop, even if the basic dynamic between the United States and China, a rising nuclear power, has not changed.