Bloomberg: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Iran and North Korea are security concerns that threaten to undermine progress in solving global economic problems, and called on the Group of Eight nations to tackle the issues with “vigor.” By Theophilos Argitis and Alexandre Deslongchamps
March 30 (Bloomberg) — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Iran and North Korea are security concerns that threaten to undermine progress in solving global economic problems, and called on the Group of Eight nations to tackle the issues with “vigor.”
Harper, addressing a meeting of G-8 foreign ministers in Gatineau, Quebec, said the group remains the principal forum for advancing a “common agenda” for peace and security, even as the Group of 20 takes the lead on economic issues.
Progress on economic issues at the G-20 “risks being undone if the world’s pressing security and development concerns are not addressed with equal vigor,” Harper said at the start of today’s meeting. Iran and North Korea are “threats to global security,” he said.
Canada, which will host G-8 and G-20 leaders’ summits in June, is pressing for unity on tougher sanctions against Iran at the meeting, which began last night, amid concerns that Russia and China would be wary of supporting such action.
The U.S. and its allies are concerned that Iran may be attempting to develop a nuclear weapons capability.
Russia, which holds a veto at the UN Security Council, has sent contradictory signals about taking more punitive measures against Iran. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said this month he was ready to consider sanctions that wouldn’t hurt civilians. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is attending today’s meetings, has said sanctions “rarely work, but there are situations in which they become unavoidable.”
China Agreement Needed
China, which is not at the meeting, also holds a UN Security Council permanent seat with veto power and hasn’t yet said whether it would go along with more sanctions on Iran. China agreed last week to enter talks on tougher steps on Iran, according to the British ambassador to the UN.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said last week sanctions should “ideally” be implemented through the UN Security Council. Kazuo Kodama, a spokesman for Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, told reporters yesterday that sanctions wouldn’t be effective without the participation of China and Russia.
The G-8 meeting will also discuss nuclear non- proliferation, Afghanistan and security gaps in states such as Yemen that may be staging grounds for terrorism.
In a statement released last night, the G-8 foreign ministers urged Afghanistan’s government to move “swiftly” to implement concrete steps to combat corruption. The ministers also condemned yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Moscow, calling them “cowardly.”