'Heightened focus .' Harper
Photo: Reuters

G8 ministers to call for stronger Iran measures

Foreign ministers from leading industrial nations to urge international community to take 'appropriate and strong steps' against Iran over its nuclear program. Canadian PM Harper: If nuclear proliferation leads to use of nuclear weapons, catastrophe will be felt around the world

Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrial nations will call on Tuesday for stronger action to be taken against Iran over its nuclear activities while keeping the door open to further talks.


A draft of the final communique from the foreign ministers' meeting urges the international community to take "appropriate and strong steps" to show its resolve over the nuclear program, which Tehran insists is purely peaceful.


Western members of the United Nations Security Council are pushing for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, which many nations suspect is trying to develop nuclear weapons.


China -- which as a permanent council member can veto the move -- has traditionally been cool to the idea of punishing Iran further. Diplomats say Beijing is slowly losing patience but still favors a diplomatic solution.


Canada, which is hosting the meeting, has until now said it backs the idea of more sanctions, but it softened its tone on Tuesday.


"We urge a heightened focus, and stronger coordinated action, including sanctions if necessary, on the Iranian regime," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the ministers as they started the second and final day of their meeting in the Quebec town of Gatineau, near Ottawa.


'Recovery in Afghanistan advancing steadily'

In the communique, the ministers said they wanted Iran to comply with demands from the UN Security Council and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

G8 ministers call for 'strong steps' against Iran. (Photo: AP)


"Ministers agreed to remain open to dialogue and also reaffirmed the need for the international community to take appropriate and strong steps to demonstrate ... resolve to uphold the international nuclear nonproliferation regime," said the document, which was shown to Reuters.


In Beijing on Tuesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said his government opposed Iran acquiring nuclear weapons but stopped short of backing new sanctions.


"At present, we hope that all sides will make substantive efforts and demonstrate flexibility over the Iran nuclear issue," he said.


The G8 ministers will discuss North Korea, which is also under pressure over its atomic program.


"There is much at stake. If nuclear proliferation leads to the use of nuclear weapons, whether by states or nonstate actors, then no matter where the bombs are set off, the catastrophe will be felt around the world," Harper said.


At a dinner on Monday the ministers considered Afghanistan, where they said recovery was "advancing steadily" despite serious problems.


"Violent extremism in parts of Afghanistan is depriving many Afghans of their right to live freely and safely," the G8 said in a statement, calling on President Hamid Karzai to fulfill promises to clamp down on rampant corruption.


"The government of Afghanistan needs to demonstrate to Afghans and to the international community that it is committed to assuming full responsibility for the welfare of Afghanistan and all its citizens," the ministers added.


פרסום ראשון: 03.30.10, 17:55
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