G-8 ministers focus on Iran, Syria, North Korea

The crisis in Syria along with growing concerns about Iran

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the G8 foreign ministers at the start of a working session at Blair House in Washington, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The crisis in Syria along with growing concerns about Iran's nuclear program and a potential North Korean missile test dominated discussions Wednesday between foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies.

"The events of this past year, even of just this past week affirm the continued need for comprehensive international cooperation and the G-8 is an essential forum for that," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said as she opened the talks to prepare for next month's summit of G-8 leaders at Camp David in Maryland.

The ministers' will end Thursday with the release of a joint statement.

Clinton said the G-8, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, is "alarmed" at violence in Syria that has continued despite efforts by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan to arrange a cease-fire. She said the ministers were concerned about the difficulties Annan is facing and would look for ways that they could cooperate to help him and "try to bring about a peaceful resolution of the current situation and a political transition for the sake of the Syrian people."

The G-8 officials were to hear from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu via videoconference. Turkey has been at the forefront of exploring ways to end the more than yearlong crackdown on dissent by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

On Iran, Clinton said it was "urgent" for the Islamic republic to use upcoming talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany to show it is serious about addressing concerns over its nuclear program. Those talks are to be held on Saturday in Istanbul.

The U.S. and its allies, including Israel, accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it has no interest in an atomic bomb and insists its program is aimed at producing energy.

"These talks are an opportunity for Iran to address seriously the international community's concerns about its nuclear program," Clinton said. "We believe there is still time for diplomacy, but it is urgent that the Iranians come to the table to establish an environment conducive to achieving concrete results through a sustained process."

Clinton also noted that North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite over the East China Sea in what almost all countries except for the North say would be a blatant violation of Security Council resolutions barring ballistic missile tests. The North says its satellite launch is not proscribed.

"I think we all share a strong interest in stability on the Korean Peninsula, and we will be discussing how best to achieve that as well," Clinton told her colleagues.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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