G8 FMs to dwell on global security

OTTAWA: G8 foreign ministers will meet tomorrow and Tuesday in Canada to discuss global security and threats such as nuclear proliferation, terrorism and hotspots on the verge of conflict.

Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, securing the Afghan-Pakistan border and bolstering trade between these two neighbours, coordinating efforts to stomp out terrorist bases in Yemen and elsewhere, and tensions in Bosnia and South America will top the agenda, sources told AFP.

The meeting, which is to be held in Gatineau, Quebec (near Ottawa), will also set the stage for G8 and G20 leaders' summits in Muskoka, Ontario and Toronto in June.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon will host US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, France's Bernard Kouchner, Russian Serguei Lavrov and their British, German, Italian and Japanese counterparts, as well as the European Union's chief diplomat Catherine Ashton.

They are to make two declarations on Afghanistan and nuclear non-proliferation at the end of the summit, said an Italian diplomat. A third statement by Canada covering all of the topics discussed is also expected.

On Friday, Cannon said Iran's nuclear program "will be of critical concern" for delegates.

"I will discuss with my G8 colleagues what we can do to put additional pressure on Iran to persuade it to stop its nuclear enrichment activities and convince the Iranian authorities to come back to the table," he said, adding more UN sanctions are inevitable.

The G8 will also discuss the upcoming review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at a New York conference in May and prepare for a nuclear security summit in Washington next month. "The NPT bargain is now under pressure from the perception that the nuclear weapons states have not disarmed, from the actions of countries like Iran and North Korea and from the perceived lack of support for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy," Cannon commented.

"For the sake of future generations we need to work to renew and expand the global consensus around the treaty and its goal of a world without nuclear weapons," he said.