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Foreign policy hot topic at G-8

marciadottin, [email protected]

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HUNTSVILLE – Failing to resolve differences on economic strategy, world leaders turned their attention yesterday to thorny foreign policy problems. The United States and Japan pushed for a strong condemnation of North Korea for the recent sinking of a South Korean warship.The Group of Eight major industrial countries were grappling with the best approach to take regarding the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran as they wrapped up two days of talks at a resort in Canada’s Muskoka lake district.The G-8 talks were set to conclude with a communiqué and a closing news conference by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the host for the talks, before the G-8 leaders moved to Toronto for discussions in the larger Group of 20.The G-8 includes the traditional global economic powers – the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada plus Russia. The G-20 expands that group to include major emerging economic powers such as China, India and South Korea.The final session of the G-8 was devoted to foreign policy. Japanese officials said that they had joined with the United States to push for strong language in the G-8 statement condemning North Korea for the attack on the warship in March. But the Japanese said that Russia was arguing for a change in the wording of the joint statement as it related to North Korea.Alexei Pavlov, a spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, declined to comment on the reported split over the language denouncing North Korea.Dimitri Soudas, chief spokesman for the Canadian prime minister, said that Harper viewed the attack on the ship as a “very serious provocation and a threat to regional stability.”South Korea has already referred the matter to the UN Security Council, which could adopt a resolution condemning the North for the sinking, or issue a less stringent presidential statement. Either action would require support from China, North Korea’s main ally, and Beijing has thus far resisted. China is a member of the G-20 but not the G-8.On Iran, the US and European nations will push other major powers to join them in imposing tough new sanctions on Tehran over its suspect nuclear program, a move that would build on expanded Security Council measures adopted this month. But China and Russia only reluctantly supported those sanctions and have balked at new unilateral steps against Iran. (AP)