HUNTSVILLE, Canada Ã¢â‚¬â€ G8 leaders laid down the law to rogue operators Iran and North Korea on Saturday, putting up a tough front on the world’s security challenges and vowing to tackle terrorism at its roots.
The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States demanded Iran reveal the extent of its nuclear program in transparent talks.
In a tough statement, they condemned North Korea’s alleged sneak attack on a South Korean warship, called on Israel to honor pledges to loosen its grip on Gaza and urged Afghanistan to boost efforts to take charge of its security.
“We are profoundly concerned by Iran’s continued lack of transparency regarding its nuclear activities and its stated intention to continue and expand enriching uranium, including to nearly 20 percent,” the statement said.
They urged Iran “to engage in a transparent dialogue about its nuclear activities” with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set to unveil conditions for new talks next week.
Four of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council are also in the G8, and the statement will increase pressure on Tehran to demonstrate that it is not attempting to build an atomic bomb, as the West fears.
After meeting for two days at an exclusive lakeside resort, the leaders of the world’s richest nations were to join emerging nations Saturday for a second summit, with the focus set to be firmly on global economic recovery.
In a sign of social tensions, 10,000 people took to Toronto streets demonstrating for different causes, in a largely peacefully rally that nevertheless saw outbreaks of violence on its fringes.
Despite a mainly well-marshaled event, led by older activists and organized labor, small groups of young hardliners scuffled with riot officers and set fire to at least two patrol cars.
Before turning their focus on the economy, the G8 leaders laid out a tough outline for tackling global political issues.
On North Korea, which stands accused of sinking the South Korean cruiser Cheonan in a March submarine attack that killed 24 sailors near the countries’ disputed maritime border, the G8 demanded Pyongyang refrain from hostilities.
Recalling that a multinational investigation found Pyongyang was to blame, despite its furious denials, the statement said: “We condemn, in this context, the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan.”
US President Barack Obama said Washington stood “foursquare behind” South Korean Lee Myung-Bak as he met Seoul’s leader, and slammed Pyongyang for its “irresponsible behavior.”
The G8 was also supportive of President Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government, which they pledged to continue supporting in its battle to rebuild the country.
But the world powers urged Kabul to work harder to ensure that its own forces were better prepared to take over responsibility for security from the US-led NATO coalition currently leading the war against Taliban rebels.
They called on Kabul to “expand the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces to assume increasing responsibility for security within five years.”
Condemning terrorism, the G8 leaders pledged to step up efforts in an “integrated and coordinated” manner to combat the threat of terrorism and attack violent extremism at its roots.
“Terrorism threatens people everywhere and undermines peace, stability and security. All acts of terrorism are criminal, inhumane, and unjustifiable irrespective of motivation,” the Group of Eight leaders said.
Canada spent more than a billion dollars to secure this week’s back-to-back G8 and G20 summits, hoping to avoid the serious street battles that have marred most recent gatherings of these global forums.
Thousands of police reinforcements backed by riot officers on horseback and spotter helicopters have been drafted into the city center, much of which is sealed off behind concrete and steel barriers.