G8 deplores detentions of journalists in Iran


L’Aquila (Italy) : The Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations Wednesday criticised the “unjustified” detention of journalists in Iran and condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.

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In a joint declaration issued at a summit in the central Italian city of L’Aquila, G8 leaders reiterated their “full respect for the sovereignty of Iran”.

However, they deplored the violence that broke out in the aftermath of its contested presidential election last month and called on Iranian leaders to “solve the situation through democratic dialogue on the basis of the rule of law”.

The statement, issued after a working dinner, echoed similar wording agreed by G8 foreign ministers at a preparatory meeting in Trieste.

It added a reference to Ahmadinejad’s frequent denials that the mass murder of Jews under Germany’s 1933-45 Nazi regime ever happened.

While the threat of sanctions was never on the table, leaders bowed to Russian pressure by not issuing a separate statement on Iran, grouping it instead with other statements on North Korea, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One of the numerous journalists arrested in Iran in the wake of the post-electoral violence was a correspondent for the US weekly magazine Newsweek, who Iranian officials now claim has confessed to writing slanderous articles against the Tehran government.

The heads of state and government of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US reiterated Western calls for Iran to come clean on its nuclear programme by cooperating fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The leaders condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear tests.