G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting (Overview)

May 14, 2012

The G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in Washington, the United States, on April 11 and 12. The meeting was attended by the foreign minister of each G8 member country and the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (by deputies for some agenda items). Japan was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba. The following is an overview of the meeting. A chair's statement was released after the meeting.

1. North Korea

Minister Gemba made an opening statement, deploring North Korea’s announcement of its intention to launch a missile, which it called a "satellite," despite a coordinated call by Japan and related countries for North Korea to take specific actions toward denuclearization and other issues. He also underlined that a missile launch would directly threaten the peace and stability of the region and, if forced through, would be a clear violation of the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and therefore unacceptable. He added that it was important for the G8 to act to call strongly for North Korea's self-restraint. Other foreign ministers made remarks supporting Minister Gemba’s statement, sharing the recognition that it was important for them to act together in close cooperation, including in the event of a missile launch. They also concurred on the view that North Korea's uranium enrichment program and weapons proliferation activities were not tolerated. Moreover, Minister Gemba asked for the G8 countries' understanding and support for solution to the abduction issue, including through the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution concerning the human rights situation in North Korea.

2. Iran

The G8 foreign ministers concurred on the importance of a diplomatic resolution through the "dialogue and pressure" approach by the international community. Minister Gemba pointed out that it was important for the international community's "pressure" toward Iran to become truly effective, eventually leading to "dialogue." From this point of view, he expressed hope that talks between the EU3+3 and Iran slated for April 14 would lead to substantial results. Stating that Japan, for its part, would consider approaching Iran at an appropriate time, he also asked for further sharing of information by EU3+3.

3. Syria

A video conference was set up between the G8 foreign ministers and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at his request. The Turkish minister briefed the G8 ministers on humanitarian and other challenges brought on by increasing refugees from Syria. After the briefing, the G8 ministers had discussions among them. In view of the time limit for the cessation of violence set for 6 a.m. (local time) on April 12 under the "six-point proposal" by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, the G8 ministers concurred on the view that they would expect it to be realized. Some ministers pointed out the importance of immediately stopping violence in the light of continued violence in Syria.

4. Afghanistan

Acknowledging that progress was made in many areas so far by the government and people of Afghanistan, the G8 ministers shared perception of the need to continue their commitment to a successful security transition to Afghan lead by the end of 2014 and to the reconstruction and stability of Afghanistan. It was pointed out that it was necessary for the government of Afghanistan to make improvements, including in governance, anti-corruption measures and women's rights. In view of upcoming important international meetings, including the G8 and NATO Chicago summits in May, and the Tokyo Conference in July, Japan proposed a scenario calling for the NATO summit to work first to resolve the security issue so that the Tokyo Conference could focus on sustainable development. Japan thus asked for the G8 foreign ministers' participation and active support.

5. Myanmar

Minister Gemba positively evaluated Myanmar’s substantive progress recently made toward democratization and national reconciliation, including by-elections held on April 1. He emphasized the need for the international community to collectively support further reforms. Other ministers expressed essentially similar perceptions. What was pointed out in the course of discussions included the importance of a step-by-step approach by which the international community provided support in accordance with progress made in reform, the development of institutions in congressional and political areas, and the development of human resources.

6. Other Issues

Discussions were also conducted on other issues, including the follow-up of the Deauville Partnership for political transitions in Middle East and North Africa, the Middle East peace process, Africa, transborder challenges such as terrorism, piracy and food security, the role of women in international peace and security, as well as cyber security.

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