Well not quite yet. But moves are afoot to bring China on-board. What isn't clear is whether or not this is simply political game-playing on France's part, or whether the move will go further. China certainly has more right to be there than either Russia or Italy.
France asked Chinese leader Hu Jintao on Friday to join the seven most industrialized economies and Russia at a summit in France in June, in a move to widen cooperation on world affairs. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, during a visit to Beijing, announced the invitation to the June 1-3 summit in the spa town of Evian, saying it came from President Jacques Chirac.
He also said China and France shared similar views on the central role of the United Nations in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq."We believe that it is necessary, that it's useful, to say the least, to discuss North-South relations with the full participation, with the participation of Africa, China and other countries," he said through an English-language translator."France and its partners have decided that the Evian meeting would be one discussing development, therefore we have expressed a wish that China be present given the theme of our discussions," he told a news conference.
The so-called Group of Seven leading economic powers -- the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Italy and Canada -- only recently decided to widen their gatherings to include Russia. Diplomats have said Russia was originally included for political rather than economic reasons and the grouping, which acts as a forum on world affairs, should remain small.
Raffarin was in China just days after a World Health Organisation travel advisory was issued for Beijing, where the number of SARS cases has been rising dramatically.He expressed solidarity with the Chinese in the face of the disease and said after meetings with senior Chinese leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao, that the two countries had a common stand regarding Iraq. "We share positions on the role of the United Nations, particularly in matters of reconstruction as well as assisting the Iraqi people," Raffarin said.
Asked his reaction to Secretary of State Colin Powell's one word answer -- "yes" -- this week to the question of whether France would suffer consequences for its opposition to the war in Iraq, Raffarin said allies should respect one another."We believe that mutual respect is the basis of the notion of allies. When you have an ally, you respect him, and when you are allies you may have diverging positions," he said.