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G-8 Leaders Endorse Iraq Reconstruction

G-8 Leaders Endorse Iraq Reconstruction, Mideast Peace Effort

(Chirac calls meeting "a summit of dialogue")

By Wendy S. Ross Washington File White House Correspondent

Evian, France -- "The time has now come to build peace and reconstruct Iraq," the leaders of the Group of Eight (G-8) said in a statement at the end of their June 1-3 summit on the shores of Lake Geneva.

"Our shared objective is a fully sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq, at peace with its neighbors and firmly on the road to progress," the statement said, showing a willingness to put behind them the divisions among some preceding the war in Iraq.

The G-8 members include the leaders of the world's seven largest industrialized democracies -- the United States, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom -- and the leader of Russia.

French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, the host of this year's summit, and several of the other G-8 leaders had opposed the U.S.-led military action to remove Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein from power, and there was speculation on how they would repair the damage over Iraq when they got together.

The summit "overcame the U.N. damage over Iraq. It certainly met its major challenge of restoring the unity" between Bush and Chirac, said Professor John Kirton, director of the G-8 research group based at the University of Toronto, in a June 3 interview with the Washington File.

Chirac made it "unmistakably clear" that all the G-8 leaders supported President Bush's trip to the Middle East, which began the afternoon of June 2, before the conclusion of the summit, Kirton said.

"He was sent off with the collective, unified voice of the G-8 behind him, saying good luck and Godspeed, we are all together with you, shoulder to shoulder," Kirton said.

The G-8 leaders' final statement welcomed the approval by the Palestinians and by Israel of the Quartet roadmap for peace in the Middle East and expressed their joint determination to support its implementation.

And they discussed the desirability of reaching a comprehensive peace settlement that includes Syria and Lebanon.

Chirac said at his closing news conference June 3, "Evian has been a summit of dialogue," not only among the G-8 leaders, but also with non-governmental organizations, and with the leaders of the emerging and developing countries -- Algeria, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa -- that were invited to this year's summit.

He predicted that future summits will continue inviting leaders from other nations to take part in "enlarged dialogue meetings" with the G-8 members.

The summit also had "the hallmark of mutual trust," Chirac said. "We really had the sense of coming altogether in order to bear weighty, significant responsibilities in a world where social progress must be achieved. It was in that spirit of mutual trust that we came up these coherent recommendations that were accepted by all without major difficulties or differences of opinion."

In a series of declarations and action plans, the G-8 leaders announced steps to fight terror and arms proliferation, including the creation of a new group to counter terrorism designed to provide resources and intelligence to countries needing it most.

The G-8 leaders warned North Korea and Iran about their nuclear programs and said they support efforts by various parties to seek by peaceful means a comprehensive solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

Chirac told reporters that at the G-8 dinner June 2, where there was no formal agenda, the leaders "talked about those countries of particular concern when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, namely North Korea and Iran."

On Afghanistan, the leaders confirmed their support for the transitional government of President Hamid Karzai but "expressed concern" over ongoing security problems in that country.

On Algeria, they expressed deepest sympathy for the people of Algeria following the recent devastating earthquakes and said they are providing "urgent humanitarian aid" and instructing their relevant ministers to report within one month on how best to help Algeria recover.

They also said they are concerned about reports of further violence by the authorities in Zimbabwe against their own people and called on the Zimbabwe government to respect the right of peaceful demonstration.

The leaders also announced measures to combat hunger and HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The Evian summit, Professor Kirton said, made "an historic number of concrete commitments on an unusually wide array of issue areas, showing that the G-8 is continuing to emerge as the effective center of global governance for the world as a whole."

He called it a summit of "solid achievement."

He listed as "particularly important" the "forward movement" on counter-terrorism measures and measures to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including new measures to keep radiological weapons from falling into terrorist hands, to promote transport security, and to control the spread and use of shoulder-held surface-to-air missiles that can take down civilian aircraft when they take off or land.

Major progress was also made on development issues dealing especially with Africa, including the fight against HIV/AIDS, he said.

The G-8 leaders "rallied around President Bush's most impressive act of unilateralism" in pledging $15,000 million of new money to fight this HIV/AIDS in Africa, Kirton said.

In addition, Kirton said there was "widespread advance on issues of ecologically sustainable development, not just water, but maritime tanker safety, and a new generation of science and technology for sustainable development."

Here again, he said, "George Bush was standing shoulder to shoulder with his G-8 colleagues."

The G-8, Kirton said, "was wise to put behind it the one divisive issue on the environmental front, the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, and move on to the vast array of other issues where it was easier to agree."

Chirac announced that the 2004 G-8 Summit will be held in the United States.

© Scoop Media

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