Nuclear ambitions, terrorism focus at G8 meet

GATINEAU, Canada, March 30, 2010 (AFP) - Group of Eight ministers gathered here Tuesday to discuss nuclear proliferation as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said China would play a role in efforts to forge sanctions against Iran at the United Nations.

"I think as the weeks go forward and we begin the hard work of trying to come up with a Security Council resolution, China will be involved," Clinton said in an interview with Canadian television, affirming that Beijing recognized the threat of Iran's nuclear program.

"China is part of the consultative group that has been unified all along the way, which has made it very clear that a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable to the international community," she told Canadian broadcaster CTV.

China has been seen as the most hesitant member of the so-called "P5-plus-1" -- the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany that are negotiating with Iran -- over imposing further sanctions.

G8 ministers at the global security talks were to discuss Tuesday an upcoming review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at a New York conference in May and a nuclear security summit in Washington next month.

The meeting in Gatineau, Quebec, near the capital Ottawa, sets the stage for G8 and G20 leaders' summits in Muskoka, Ontario and Toronto in June.

"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," Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said late Monday.

"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."

Cannon previously warned that more UN sanctions against Iran appeared inevitable, and said he would ask delegates to consider "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 was echoed by Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, whose spokesman said the world must consider a "stronger response" to Iran's defiance, "including a possibility of adopting a new UN Security Council resolutions."

"We hope China, together with Russia (and others) will get onboard to make any decision effective," he added.

On Monday, in the wake of the deadly Moscow metro bombing, terrorism took center stage as ministers arrived for the talks.

On behalf of his G8 counterparts, Cannon said G8 foreign ministers "strongly condemned the cowardly terrorist attacks" on the Moscow subway early Monday.

Ministers also expressed "their deepest sympathy to all who have been injured or bereaved by these attacks, and call for the prosecution of all those responsible," he said.

The twin rush-hour suicide bombings on packed metro trains in Moscow killed at least 39 people.

Officials said the attacks were carried out by women wearing belts packed with explosives, marking a return of the so-called "Black Widows" who terrorized Moscow a decade ago with a string of attacks.

Russia is a key member of the group of the world's eight most developed nations, which also comprises Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

Clinton told CTV that governments and nations of the world faced a "common enemy" in terrorism, and have no choice but to "go after the terrorists."

"Whether you are in a Moscow subway or a London subway or a train in Madrid or an office building in New York, we face the same enemy," the top US diplomat said.

Late Monday Cannon meanwhile announced an initiative to bolster economic activity in depressed regions along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and boost trade between the two countries.

"Stability in the region is critical for global security," Cannon explained.

The plan, he said, was developed in consultation with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

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