ALISON STEWART:So, what can we expect the G7 to accomplish in just two days' time?
I'm joined via Skype by Wall Street Journal reporter Anton Troianovski, who is covering the summit in Germany.
So, Anton, what are the two biggest issues being discussed at this G7?
ANTON TROIANOVSKI, The Wall Street Journal: Well, there's a lot of different things on the agenda, but the issues looming over all of it are Greece and Russia.
Greece, as you know, is locked into these — this kind of showdown-type negotiation with its international creditors. They desperately need billions of euros and more bailout funds. But the negotiations between the creditors and Greece remain very tense.
And, on Russia, President Obama landed here this morning with the goal of making sure that the Europeans are united behind maintaining sanctions against Russia as long as the violence in Ukraine continues. And for now, it appears that that is going to happen.
ALISON STEWART: What has been the impact of a Putin-less summit? What has his absence meant?
ANTON TROIANOVSKI: I mean, it shows this new division that we're seeing in the world, this — this issue that a lot of people are referring to as a new cold war.
Chancellor Angela Merkel here in Germany, who is hosting this summit, has come under a fair amount of criticism here at home that Putin is excluded. You know, people say, how can you solve international issues where Russia is a key player without Moscow at the table?
Her response is that the Group of Seven is not just an economic group or a political group, but it's also a group of democracies with shared values.
ALISON STEWART: Angela Merkel, Chancellor Merkel, it was a fairly warm welcome for President Obama, although she did have a few pointed references to the surveillance of her cell phone or the surveillance of her particularly.
How would you characterize that relationship now?
ANTON TROIANOVSKI: Well, the references today were very oblique, as the thing usually is with Angela Merkel.
She did mention, basically, that, you know, despite some differences of opinion between Germany and the United States, the alliance stayed strong. You know, the U.S. and Berlin have maintained a united front, by and large, in confronting Moscow over Ukraine. Merkel has led the European sanctions push against Russia, the European diplomatic push with Russia.
So, that appears to be working. And you could certainly tell, when Obama met Merkel today on this town square near the resort where they're meeting, she really went all out to say that, the way he put it, U.S.-German alliance was one of the strongest the world has ever seen.
ALISON STEWART: We should mention, of course, there have been thousands of protesters at this G7 summit.
What is it they are protesting? What seems to be the most important issue to the activists?
ANTON TROIANOVSKI: You know, here in Germany, it is probably the transatlantic trade agreement that the E.U. and the U.S. are negotiating right now.
A lot of people here see this Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as it's called, or TTIP, as an agreement that will lower consumer protections here in Germany, bring, you know, American cowboy capitalism to Europe. So, there is a fair amount of opposition to that here.
Trade is on the agenda to be discussed here at the G7. TTIP is one of the main economic goals that Merkel has over the next couple of years. Climate policy is going to be another key issue here, ahead of the big climate conference in Paris later this year.
It's a whole grab bag of things that people are protesting here. But we should also say, for now, it's been quite peaceful, compared especially to some of the past G7, G8 summits.
ALISON STEWART: Anton Troianovski, thank you so much for sharing your reporting.
ANTON TROIANOVSKI: Sure thing. Thank you.