G8 to put pressure on North Korea, Iran and Israel
The leaders of the world's eight most powerful developed nations are set to up the pressure on Iran, North Korea and Israel when they met for a summit in Canada on Saturday, dpa reported.
Tensions flared on the Korean Peninsula in March when a South Korean warship was sunk by an explosion and an international investigation later found that the North had torpedoed the ship.
Middle East tensions, meanwhile, rose on May 31 when Israeli commandos stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine people.
The Group of Eight (G8) leaders "deeply regret the loss of life and the injuries suffered" in the Israeli attack, and hold that the Israeli blockade on Gaza is "not sustainable and must be changed," reads a draft summit statement seen by the German Press Agency dpa.
Leaders also "strongly condemn the attack by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on March 26," it reads.
"Such a provocative attack is a challenge to international peace and stability," it adds.
Leaders were set to debate the draft on Saturday morning and could still change the text.
But diplomats said they are unlikely to change a passage expressing their "profound concern" over Iran's ongoing nuclear project and calling on all countries to enforce new United Nations Security Council sanctions, imposed on June 9.
It was not yet clear, however, if they would also approve a statement criticising Iran's "continuing repression of peaceful dissent" in the wake of last year's presidential election.
Diplomatic sources said that the tone of the final statement would largely depend on Russia, a veto holder on the UN Security Council. Moscow has close ties with Iran and has in the past taken a less hostile line with North Korea than other G8 members.
The strength of the final declaration on Israel, meanwhile, is likely to depend on the position of the United States, the country's most important ally.
The G8 consists of Britain, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US. Leaders meet annually to discuss security, development and economic issues.
The leaders are also expected to extend an initiative aimed at helping countries to destroy stockpiles of nuclear weapons and preventing the spread of such technologies.