G8 foreign ministers start meeting in Kyoto Eds: epa photos


Kyoto, Japan : The foreign ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) on Thursday started a two-day meeting in Japan as international attention focused on North Korea’s long-expected declaration of its nuclear programme and facilities, according to DPA.

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The United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Russia and Japan were expected to send a “very strong message” to North Korea and Iran on non-proliferation issues from their meeting in Kyoto, officials said, as China announced Pyongyang would submit its declaration later Thursday.

Japan was expected to seek the cooperation of the other G8 members as it fears North Korea’s expected delisting from the United States’ terrorism blacklist would undermine its efforts to clear up the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s.

US chief North Korean negotiator Christopher Hill was also to meet with delegates on the sidelines of the meeting.

A strong statement was also expected on Afghanistan, the second hot spot on the agenda, with G8 pledges to be made on strengthening border security with Pakistan as well as urging the government in Kabul to clean up its act on corruption and drugs.

In a series of bilateral meetings preceding the talks, Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura discussed such topics as Zimbabwe and Myanmar with his counterparts, Japanese media said.

The Kyoto meeting is the last in a series of meetings before the G8 summit July 7-9 in Toyako on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, where climate change and development top the agenda.