Fri, May 27, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Arab Spring, nuclear chills vex G8 chiefs in France

AFP, DEAUVILLE, FRANCE

G8 chiefs met to call for an end to the violent repression of revolts in Syria and Libya yesterday and expressed confidence that partner Japan will recover fully from nuclear disaster.

According to a draft version of their planned declaration, the leaders of the world’s richest nations were also to urge immediate Israel-Palestinian peace talks, and backed a government role in policing the Internet.

A massive security operation that involved 12,500 police and gendarmes, backed by boats and spotter helicopters, blanketed the chic resort of Deauville on the northern French coast as the G8 leaders arrived at the seafront venue.

The final wording of the declaration was being discussed at a working lunch hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his fellow leaders of Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US.

Addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the leaders urged Damascus to end violent repression and carry out reform, as they sought ways to encourage democracy in their first meeting since the “Arab Spring” uprisings.

“We call on the Syrian leadership to stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to engage in dialogue and fundamental reforms in response to the legitimate expression of the demands of the Syrian people,” the draft said.

G8 member Russia had previously spoken out firmly against foreign intervention in its traditional Middle East ally, and earlier this month rejected calls for a special UN Security Council meeting on the country.

At what will effectively be a 24-hour meeting, G8 chiefs were to express solidarity with Japan following the March 11 disasters ahead of a lively debate on ways of improving global nuclear safety after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident.

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