Iran, disarmament at top of G8 minister meeting

Iran, disarmament at top of G8 minister meeting

Iran, nuclear security and nuclear proliferation are expected to top the agenda of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the G8 countries when they meet Monday and Tuesday in Ottawa, dpa reported.

Canada is this year's president of the G8 - the world's leading industrial countries, the US, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada - and Russia.

The international push to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons will be a dominant theme of the meeting, diplomats said.

Russia has leaned more toward supporting the push by the US, France, Britain - plus Germany - to adopt new sanctions against Iran through the UN Security Council. But China, the UN panel's fifth veto-empowered member, has resisted sanctions in favour of further talks, although there were some indications of some changes in Beijing's stance, diplomats said.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has emphasized the need to take a hard line against Tehran, saying a nuclear-armed Iran would massively endanger the global system of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. He said the international community cannot accept that prospect.

Russia's Foreign Ministry noted the importance of the Ottawa meeting in preparing for the April summit in Washington on preventing the spread of dangerous nuclear material, and the meetings in May in New York to conduct the periodic review of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Andrei Nesterenko, spokesman for the Russian ministry, said Thursday in Moscow that the ministers expected to adopt a special declaration on the question of nonproliferation.

The situations in Iran, North Korea and the Middle East were also on the agenda, he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would likely lead the discussions on the Middle East, after the so-called Middle East quartet met in Moscow earlier this month, Nesterenko said.

During the Ottawa meeting, the Arctic rim countries - Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway - were also planning a ministerial meeting on Arctic issues, Russian officials said.

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