G-8 to strengthen work on nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament

Leaders of the Group of Eight nations agreed to strengthen efforts at nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, expressing readiness to build on the just-concluded agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads.

In a series of statements issued after the meeting on global security issues Wednesday, they also condemned North Korea's recent nuclear test and ballistic missile launches, calling on the international community to take concrete steps against the country based on a new U.N. resolution.

The G-8 -- which groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- also deplored the bloody violence in Iran that erupted after its disputed presidential election last month.

The leaders from the G-8 also expressed concerns about Iran's controversial nuclear program and the proliferation risks it poses and noted their continued commitment to seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue.

Meanwhile, the G-8 pledged to work together with Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying it stands with the former in its fight against ''terrorists and violent extremists'' and urging the latter to ensure a ''credible, inclusive and secure'' election in August to pick a new leader.

The leaders also declared their commitment to defeating terrorism the world over, saying the G-8 plays a ''key role'' in the effort. Terrorism, they said, can only be countered effectively through coordinated and collective effort, especially in the fields of information-sharing and capacity-building.

The leaders welcomed Monday's agreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on a framework for a new pact that would reduce their strategic nuclear warheads to as few as 1,500 each.

The G-8, they said, intends to ''seize current opportunities and the new momentum'' to strengthen their common nonproliferation and disarmament goals and called on others to undertake steps toward these ends while ensuring greater transparency.

''We are all committed to seeking a safer world for all and to creating conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of'' the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the G-8 said, echoing the vision Obama advocated in Prague in April. Half of the G-8 nations possess nuclear weapons.

The G-8 slammed North Korea ''in the strongest terms'' for conducting a nuclear test May 25 and launching a rocket April 5 in violation of a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution.

The leaders also condemned Pyongyang's launching of seven ballistic missiles Saturday and urged all U.N. members to ''fully and transparently'' implement the sanctions called for in a new resolution adopted last month.

The G-8 urged North Korea to swiftly return to the stalled six-party talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, work to abandon all nuclear weapons and programs, and address its humanitarian issues, including its abductions of foreign nationals.

On Iran, the leaders said they were ''seriously concerned'' about the post-electoral situation there, including the loss of civilians, and called the detention of journalists ''unacceptable.'' While noting their respect for Iran's sovereignty, they called on Teheran to solve the issue through ''democratic dialogue.''

In countering terrorism, the G-8 expressed its commitment to beefing up international sanctions to hinder the mobility of terrorists and block their access to financial resources.

The annual summit began Wednesday in central Italy. Talks on various global and regional issues are scheduled to be held during the three-day meeting.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on July 9, 2009)