G8 Talks Focus on Syria, Iran, N. Korea

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations are meeting for a second day in Washington for discussions that include the continuing violence in Syria, nuclear talks with Iran and North Korea's missile launch plans.

The two days of talks are aimed at setting the agenda for next month's G8 summit at the Camp David presidential retreat outside Washington.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also holding bilateral meetings Thursday with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Clinton says all G8 nations are deeply concerned about the extent of the violence and casualties in Syria, as well as the problems that special envoy Kofi Annan has faced in trying to secure a cease-fire.

Within the G8, the United States, France and Britain have called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down as part of a democratic transition to end the political violence. Russia has backed Mr. Assad in his battle against the opposition, and it continues to sell arms to Syria.

Other G8 members represented at the ministerial talks are Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan.

On Iran and the international community's concerns about its nuclear program, Clinton said there is still time for diplomacy, but that it is urgent that Tehran come to the negotiating table.

It is a standoff similar to that in North Korea, which says it is readying the launch of a rocket that will put a satellite in orbit. Western nations and Pyongyang's neighbors say that covers up the real purpose of the mission: testing a ballistic missile that could later be fitted with a nuclear warhead.

Clinton says a North Korean missile launch would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, and that all G8 ministers all share a strong interest in stability on the Korean Peninsula.