The Latest: US envoy calls the G-7 "more relevant than ever"

The Latest on the Group of Seven meeting (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

A top American diplomat has pledged U.S. "commitment" to the Group of Seven developed top economies, despite the absence of his boss, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at G-7 meetings in France.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan spoke to The Associated Press at the G-7's two-day foreign ministers meeting in the Atlantic resort of Dinard. He says "the G-7, given developments over the last decade or so, is more relevant than ever. We're like-minded democracies."

The upbeat tone marked a pointed contrast to President Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for the G-7. Sullivan also says the U.S. is "looking forward" to taking over the group's presidency from France next year.

Key issues that will be discussed in France include trafficking in Africa's troubled Sahel region, cybercrime and the fight against the Islamic State group.


2:15 p.m.

Interior ministers of the Group of Seven most advanced economies have adopted joint commitments on the world's top security issues.

In a final written statement at a meeting in Paris, the G-7 countries agreed Friday to reinforce tools to combat the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking. They stressed the need for facilitating access to asylum for refugees and implementing the forced return of migrants who are not entitled to stay.

Ministers also discussed how to handle foreign fighters who joined the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq — yet still have different views on the issue. The U.S. wants countries to take back their citizens but some Western countries, including France, have largely refused and want them to face trials where they committed their crimes.

French Interior minister Christophe Castaner called the meeting "a success" and said "while some of us have different views, we were able ... to lay down concrete guidelines on key security issues."


1:05 p.m.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched a media freedom campaign alongside international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney from the sidelines of the Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in the French Atlantic resort of Dinard.

Hunt said Friday the issue was of "global prominence" following the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October during the deadliest year on record for journalists "with 99 killed."

Hunt said "democratic countries need to stand together to make it an international taboo ... to murder, arrest or detain journalists for doing their job."

Clooney will be Hunt's Media Freedom special envoy and chair a panel of legal experts that will offer advice to governments who want to strengthen journalists' rights.


9:40 a.m.

The world's security challenges are at the top of the agenda of foreign and interior ministers of the Group of Seven countries who are gathering in France.

Interior ministers in Paris are focusing Friday on environmental crime, including reckless deforestation, waste trafficking and protection of lands and wildlife.

They will then detail joint commitments on fighting terrorism and human trafficking in a news conference.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers will kick off their two-day meeting in the Atlantic resort of Dinard. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stayed at home because of domestic duties. Washington sent lower-ranking officials instead.

In addition to the U.S., the G-7 includes France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and the U.K.