Leaders of the G-8 industrialized nations on Saturday urged Iran and North Korea to refrain from action that threatens international security. Meanwhile, the summit of the wider group of G-20 has begun in Canada.
Chancellor Merkel was among the leaders in Huntsville
G-8 leaders didn't pull any punches after their summit in Huntsville, Canada, this weekend, issuing a final communique critical of Iran, North Korea, Israel, and Afghanistan.
The leaders of the world's eight richest countries called on Iran to hold a "transparent dialogue" over its suspect nuclear program, as Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmedinejad prepares to unveil his conditions for talks.
"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," G-8 leaders said in their final communique.
"Our goal is to persuade Iran's leaders to engage in a transparent dialogue about its nuclear activities and to meet Iran's international obligations," they wrote, while simultaneously welcoming a deal between Iran, Turkey and Brazil designed to rein in the country's nuclear enrichment program.
The West believes Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and is only meant to meet its energy needs.
The eight most powerful nations focused on trouble spots around the world
The leaders of Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States also expressed their "gravest concern about the nuclear test and missile activities" carried out by North Korea, reiterating that the country cannot become a nuclear power under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
They also condemned the sinking of a South Korean submarine in March, adjudged to have been carried out by the North, that killed 24 sailors near the countries' disputed maritime border.
"We demand the Democratic People's Republic of Korea refrain from committing any attacks or threatening hostilities against the Republic of Korea," the group concluded.
Israel and Gaza
The G8 condemned an Israeli raid on this aid flotilla
The group's joint statement welcomed Israel's promise to loosen its blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, as leaders said they "urge full and effective implementation of this policy in order to address the needs of Gaza's population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity."
"The current arrangements are not sustainable and must be changed."
The long-standing blockade of the territory came into sharp focus this month after Israeli troops stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla of aid ships in international waters on May 31. The boats were trying to defy the blockade, saying they were taking humanitarian supplies to the region. The G-8 leaders said they deeply regretted the deaths of nine activists during this Israeli intervention.
Obama accepting McChrystal's resignation put the Afghan mission back in the spotlight
Finally, the leaders used their chance to address the conflict in Afghanistan, days after the sudden resignation of the ISAF force's commanding general, Stanley McChrystal, who has since been replaced by senior US military general, David Petraeus.
Offering their full support to the current strategy in Afghanistan, ahead of a number of major military operations in the country, the G-8 statement said Afghan soldiers should be in a position to start taking responsibility for the country's security "within five years."
The leaders described the coming months and years as an opportunity for President Hamid Karzai's embattled government to improve its performance, "including measures to combat corruption, address illicit drug production and trafficking, improve human rights, (and) improve provision of basic services and governance."
A near-parallel summit of the so-called G-20 group of industrialized and emerging economies is underway nearby in Toronto.
Author: Mark Hallam (AP/AFP/dpa/ Reuters)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar