Group of Eight leaders have adopted a wide-ranging plan of action
to address world problems; including concern over Iran and North Korea's
nuclear programs. But the ministers also found their attention diverted by
events in the Middle East.
On the third and final day of the summit, ministers from the
world's richest nations have adopted a final communiqué outlining a plan
of action on issues including global energy security and the fight against
global terrorism and AIDS. But the deteriorating and fast-moving situation
in Israel and Lebanon definitely took center stage.
The non-binding G8 Statement on the Middle East, adopted by consensus,
says the most important thing now is for all sides to take urgent measures
to end military action.
The leaders of Russia, the United States, Britain, Italy, France,
Germany, Canada and Japan also backed a decision to return concerns about
Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. The ministers'
communiqué warns Iran that failure to respond, or a negative reply, will
cause the Security Council to resume work on an Iran resolution that could
include punitive sanctions.
On North Korea, the ministers condemned the country's recent missile
launches and urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs. The G8
leaders also called for North Korea to resume the six-party talks that
have been frozen since the beginning of this year.
The agreement to curb major infectious diseases, the third of the
priority topics set by the G-8, calls for international cooperation in
surveillance and monitoring, as well as intensifying scientific research
and public awareness campaigns. It also urges improved access to
prevention and treatment for those in need.
In a briefing with reporters, Summit Host President Vladimir Putin
expressed satisfaction with the results of the summit.
"All the aims which we set have been reached. All the documents which
we planned to adopt have been adopted, virtually without any changes," he
President Putin also said he had fulfilled his promise to allow
participation by Russian civil society groups, who say their views are
increasingly being silenced in today's Russia.
G8 ministers also agreed to strengthen cooperation against global
terrorism and pledged to contain incidents of high-level government
Meanwhile, assistance to Africa, which topped last year's summit, was
more or less sidelined this year, aside from a session attended by U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan and the African Union. Secretary Annan says
there has been progress since the 2005 G8 Summit in Scotland, but he adds
that the task is still far from complete.
This year's summit did not see the same type of violence associated
with street protests at past G8 meetings. Anti-globalization activists
attribute that to, what they say, was heavy handed Russian security that
relegated them to a stadium far from the summit site.