The First Press Conference, 8 July 2008
- G8 Working Dinner
- Questions concerning Zimbabwe
- Questions concerning Afghanistan
- Follow-up questions concerning Zimbabwe
- Questions concerning North Korea
Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama: Good evening everybody. I will give you the outcome of the Working Dinner this evening in which the G8 leaders focused on political issues. At the end of the dinner, the leaders agreed to release the following declaration or standalone statement, in addition to a standalone statement on counterterrorism. I hope you have all of these papers with you now. The G8 Declaration on Political Issues, starting from non-proliferation, paragraph 57 to paragraph 72, forms one part of the document delivered this evening. And then you have in front of you the G8 Leaders' Statement on Zimbabwe which is an independent document on Zimbabwe. Then thirdly, you have another independent document, the G8 Leaders' Statement on Counterterrorism and then finally, I think this is paragraph 56 so it is part of the G8 Declaration on International Institutions.
Now, this evening the Working Dinner lasted from 19:15 to 21:10 during which they discussed the following regional or political issues: Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Sudan and Myanmar. At the outset of the discussion, the leaders concentrated on finalizing their Statement on Zimbabwe. They spent nearly 30 minutes finalizing the document which you have in front of you. Then after that, Prime Minister Fukuda went on to discuss the issues pertaining to the DPRK but maybe I should briefly touch on the gist of this G8 Leaders' Statement on Zimbabwe as I think this is of great interest to you.
I am told that the end product in the form of this Statement is a product of the G8 leaders themselves and the first paragraph is the paragraph in which the leaders express their grave concern about the current situation in Zimbabwe and also they deplore the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities pressed ahead with the runoff presidential election.
Paragraph two, as was mentioned earlier, the G8 leaders do not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people. In paragraph four, the G8 leaders support the African Union as well as SADC's (Southern African Development Community) role as a mediator. In paragraph five, the G8 leaders are deeply concerned by the humanitarian dimension of the situation in Zimbabwe. In the final paragraph, number six, sentence two says: "We recommend the appointment of a special envoy of the UN Secretary-General to report on the political, humanitarian, human rights and security situation and to support regional efforts to take forward mediation between political parties." So this is something new - an appointment of a special envoy is being suggested by the G8 leaders. Then the very final sentence is, "We will take further steps inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for violence."
On the DPRK, based on this evening's discussions on all these countries, apart from the DPRK and Iran, the rest will be incorporated into the Chairman's Summary, not in this G8 Leaders' Declaration. I will draw your attention to paragraph 58 of the G8 Leaders' Declaration on Political Issues which solely deals with the DPRK. This truly reflects the consensus of all the G8 leaders who took part in the discussion this evening on the DPRK. The important part, if I may, is the second part of paragraph 58. It says we welcome a declaration as a step toward the full implementation of the joint statement. And so this is a message of welcome to the DPRK on their provision of a declaration as a step forward. Then, the G8 leaders urge the DPRK to fully cooperate in the verification process - we think this is very important. "We also emphasize the importance of swift disablement of all existing nuclear facilities and the abandonment of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs by the DPRK." So this is another very important point to make.
Then the G8 leaders also "urge the DPRK to fully comply with the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1695 and 1718, including abandoning of all its nuclear weapons," and so on. Also, from the Japanese perspective, I would also like to draw your attention to the very first part of paragraph 58 because it says, "We express our continuous support for the Six-Party process toward the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the eventual normalization of relations between the relevant Six-Party members," meaning of course Japan-DPRK and also including the US-DPRK, "through the full implementation of the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, including the resolution of the outstanding issues of concern such as the abduction issue." I would just add that this is the very first time in the history of the G8 in which a direct reference to the abduction issue is made in this G8 Leaders' Declaration. We very much appreciate the fact that the G8 leaders this time embraced the reference to the abduction issue and they wholeheartedly expressed their support for the resolution of the abduction issue.
On Iran, the important part is as you may know, if you look at paragraph 59, "We urge Iran to fully comply with UNSCRs 1696, 1737, 1747 and 1803 without further delay, and in particular to suspend all enrichment-related activities." We have been asking Iran to suspend their ongoing uranium enrichment activities. Unfortunately they have not done so, so this is yet another strong request from the G8 leaders.
And then if you turn to page two of this Political Issues Declaration, "We firmly support and cooperate with the efforts by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - the so-called EU plus three - supported by the High Representative of the EU to resolve the issue innovatively through negotiation." They also recommend the efforts by other G8 members, particularly the high-level dialogue by Japan. This actually implies the fact that Prime Minister Fukuda, early last month when he was in Rome he met with the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the meeting he requested the Iranian President to comply with these UNSCRs and to suspend the ongoing uranium enrichment activities. Unfortunately he refused to listen to Prime Minister Fukuda's request, but in any way, Japan for its part, has been doing these kinds of efforts to persuade Iran.
On Iran, I may add just a few points. One of the leaders mentioned that Iran is showing willingness to conduct dialogue with us, so under such circumstances, is it wise to introduce sanctions against Iran - there was such a view expressed. On the other hand, some other leaders maintained that, no, we have to apply pressure on Iran together with the willingness to continue dialogue. Such a dual track approach is necessary. In the end this is the consensus of all the G8 leaders in dealing with Iran.
Then on Afghanistan, Prime Minister Fukuda expressed his deepest condolences to the victims and bereaved families of the most recent suicide bombing which killed more than 50 civilians in Kabul. And then leaders discussed the need to continue to support Afghanistan in its twin efforts to strengthen security on the ground as well as to continue their reconstruction efforts. Indeed the leaders on one hand pointed out the ongoing challenges including the need to improve the governance, the need to strengthen their border management - the border with Pakistan - and also the need to strengthen counternarcotics measures. Then at the same time, the leaders acknowledged that in the areas of infrastructure, health and education, we are seeing some positive progress. In view of the strategic importance of Afghanistan, the G8 leaders agree that we should continue to assist both the reconstruction efforts as well as the security on the ground in Afghanistan.
I would also add that if you look at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Afghanistan which was issued on 26 June, all the important elements are incorporated in that Statement. I think what was discussed this evening are all incorporated in this G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement.
Then they went on to discuss the situation in the Middle East, especially the Middle East peace process. To save time I will just mention that if you read the 27 June G8 Foreign Ministers' Chairman's Statement, all the important elements are there. If you have any questions on this later I will be happy to go into details.
On Sudan, the G8 leaders were in unison in expressing their concern about the situation in Sudan. One is that the Sudan-Chad relations are worsening and also we have to engage the Sudan leadership to expedite the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations in Sudan to ensure the peace in Sudan. If you have a look at the Sudan part of the Foreign Ministers' Statement, again, all the important elements are there.
Finally on Myanmar, I think Prime Minister Fukuda summed up as follows: that we should continue to ensure that the aid reaches those affected by the cyclone which hit Myanmar recently. Also we would continue to ask the Myanmar authorities to improve access for foreign aid workers to the affected areas. So far as the political process is concerned, I regret to comment that there has been no real progress to date, so we should continue to engage the Myanmar authorities to encourage them to engage all stakeholders in an inclusive and transparent process.
Another point was made to the effect that if the Myanmar authorities are willing to show substantive political progress then we should be prepared to respond positively. This is the sort of same principle of dialogue on one hand and pressure on the other. The same things can be said about the situation in dealing with Iran or the DPRK, what we call a "dual track approach."
Q: The Statement on Zimbabwe says, "We will take further steps inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for violence." Does that mean sanctions and what further steps were discussed either by the leaders or the sherpas?
Mr. Kodama: This expression is the exact outcome of our leaders' drafting itself so I better not give you any sort of interpretation. Just take this as it stands: the G8 leaders will take further steps. They don't use words like sanctions, so they will take further steps, including financial and other measures.
Q: What discussion was there about what those further steps might be, either by the leaders or any other officials?
Mr. Kodama: I am sorry, I don't have any idea on what "other measures" really means. Earlier I mentioned that in the course of the discussions among the G8 leaders, some leaders advocated for further sanctions to be introduced and then again you may find a clue if you look at those measures being already introduced by some of these countries. But here again I emphasize that these are the exact words used by the leaders on this issue.
Q: I wonder if you can tell me how much of the dinner was devoted to Afghanistan. Was it just a few minutes, was it longer? In particular the discussions of problems as opposed to the condolences expressed by Prime Minister Fukuda.
Mr. Kodama: I am sorry, I don't have any knowledge on how many minutes but as I mentioned earlier, they actually spent less than two hours for their Working Dinner. And then, out of two hours, half an hour was spent to finalize this Statement on Zimbabwe, so that means there was less than 90 minutes to discuss the DPRK, Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Sudan and Myanmar. So 90 minutes divided by six is about 15 minutes. I am told that on all these issues, apart from Zimbabwe, there were no substantive differences of views among the G8 leaders on all these issues; there was a sort of consensus among the leaders.
Q: Was there any discussion of concerted diplomatic efforts to pressure Pakistan to work harder to secure the border with Afghanistan?
Mr. Kodama: I don't know the answer to your question, but I was at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting which took place in Kyoto about a week ago, and there of course, the G8 Foreign Ministers decided to issue a standalone Statement on Afghanistan. The important point to bear in mind is unless the border regions on both sides of Pakistan and Afghanistan greatly improve their security on the ground, we will not be able to see a safe Afghanistan or a safe Pakistan. As such, the G8 position as of today is really to continue to urge both Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve their relations and to improve their dialogue. One related paragraph if I may is something like this. Having in mind that this is directed to Pakistan, the G8 Foreign Ministers call on Afghanistan's neighbors - meaning Pakistan and Iran - to play a constructive role for the stability of Afghanistan and we particularly encourage Afghanistan and Pakistan to continue their cooperation in a constructive and mutually-beneficial manner through dialogue.
Q: You have yourself mentioned that sanctions against Zimbabwe were unlikely because the Foreign Ministers had not mentioned sanctions. I wonder if you could give us a sense of what changed. Yesterday the G8 leaders got a briefing from the African leaders including President Mbeki who is the mediator in the Zimbabwe situation. Can we draw the conclusion that they were not very persuasive in suggesting to the G8 that sanctions would be unhelpful in Zimbabwe?
Mr. Kodama: I find it very difficult to give you a satisfactory answer to your question. I am sorry to say this but the exact expression being agreed upon by the G8 leaders is what you have now in this paper. They don't use the word "sanctions." They just use the words "take further steps, including financial and other measures."
Q: This was more than the Foreign Ministers...
Mr. Kodama: That is true; there was no such reference in the Foreign Ministers' Statement, but after of course, no higher authority than the authority given to the summiteers so they can decide as they please and this is what they have decided today.
Q: Just a quick question about North Korea. You mentioned that this is the first time that the abduction issue has been included in the...
Mr. Kodama: Leaders' declaration.
Q: I was just wondering, did you have to fight for that? Did anybody oppose the inclusion of it or was everybody very supportive?
Mr. Kodama: No, I don't think so. No is the answer to your question.
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