G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting

June 23, 2005

G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held on Thursday, June 23 at Lancaster House in London (United Kingdom). Foreign ministers from G8 countries attended the meeting. From Japan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura attended. From Canada, Political Director attended as proxy.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah of Afghanistan, the Quartet's Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement James Wolfensohn and US Security Coordinator General William Ward also attended the meeting. Each of these participants contributed to discussions on Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process respectively. After the meeting, the Chairman's Statement and the Statement on Afghanistan were issued.

1. Afghanistan

In his opening remarks, Foreign Minister Abdullah of Afghanistan expressed his appreciation for the assistance provided by G8 countries, including efforts led by Japan for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants. He also expressed his hope that the G8 would continue its assistance to Afghanistan after the Bonn process comes to an end with the holding of parliamentary elections in September. In response, the G8 countries announced their unanimous stance of further enhancing assistance to Afghanistan in areas including security, narcotics and education. UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw and Foreign Minister Abdullah also stated that Afghanistan and the United Kingdom hope to co-host an international conference on regional economic cooperation later this year in Kabul.

Foreign Minister Machimura made the following statements: (a) The completion of the DDR process for the ex-national army combatants at the beginning of next month is one of the most impressive results achieved by the G8, and given the importance of disbandment of illegal armed groups, Japan would like to ask the G8 to provide unified support; (b) Japan is seeking to consider what contribution Afghanistan can make to the "Central Asia plus Japan" dialogue which is currently being led by Japan; and (c) Issues concerning the security continue to be a pressing issue, and Japan would like to provide assistance to the greatest extent possible.

2. The Middle East Peace

In his opening remarks, Special Envoy Wolfensohn reported on the current status of the peace process and provided a briefing on the importance of the smooth implementation of Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank, and the importance of social and economic development in Palestine post-disengagement. He requested the united support of the international community, including the G8, in these efforts. The G8 emphasized the importance of efforts by Israel and Palestine towards the realization of a successful disengagement and the goal of a two-state solution, and recognized the necessity of cooperation by the international community as a whole. Foreign Minister Machimura explained to his colleagues how he has called on both parties to work towards this goal and Japan's assistance to Palestine. In addition, he explained Japan's efforts to continue to approach Islamic countries in Asia as part of efforts to seek assistance from the international community, for example, by ensuring mentioning of the Roadmap in the Joint Ministerial Statement issued at the Asia-Africa Ministerial Conference in April.

3. Iran

Concerning the issue of Iran's nuclear program, EU3 (UK, France and Germany) explained the current status of negotiations underway between the EU3 and Iran. In particular, as for how things will proceed after the Foreign Ministerial Meeting between the EU3 and Iran in May, the EU3 explained that they will provide a comprehensive proposal to Iran at the end of July or beginning of August. The G8 agreed to support the negotiations being undertaken by the EU3 to request Iran to provide objective guarantees to ensure that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. In addition to expressing concerns about Iran's missile program and its attitude towards terrorism, the G8 countries also discussed the Middle East peace process and the status of human rights in respect to Iran. In this regard, some countries expressed their concerns about the presidential election in Iran whose runoff was scheduled to take place on June 24.

4. UN Reform

Foreign Minister Machimura noted that with regard to the issue of reform of the Security Council, a number of opinions exist among the G8 countries, however, that unless the Security Council is able to reflect current realities which are considerably different from international circumstances 60 years ago, it would be unable to function. Foreign Minister Machimura emphasized that in order to achieve a successful outcome at the 2005 Summit on the Millennium Declaration in September, concrete results need to be obtained in each area including Security Council reform, peace-building, human rights, and administrative and fiscal reforms. As a result of various discussions, the G8 Foreign Ministers agreed that there is a need to reform the United Nations, including the Security Council, and this agreement was included in the Chairman's Statement.

5. North Korea

Foreign Minister Machimura noted that the nuclear issue of North Korea was of grave concern to Japan's security. He pointed out that June 23 marked exactly one year since the last Six-Party Talk was held and requested the international community, including the G8, to take up the issue with a sense of urgency. In addition, Foreign Minister Machimura emphasized that the goal of the Six-Party Talks was for North Korea to completely dismantle its nuclear programs and that Japan requests North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks promptly and unconditionally. Moreover, in addition to the importance of a response to the missile issue and concerns about human rights in North Korea, Foreign Minister Machimura requested the understanding and support of G8 countries on the abduction issue. Based on the discussions that took place, the Chairman's Statement included a message indicating concern over the nuclear issue of North Korea and urging North Korea to return promptly to the Six-Party Talks. The Chairman's Statement also noted that discussions had covered other security issues and human rights abuses in North Korea, including abductions, and urged the North Korean authorities to take prompt steps to address these concerns.

6. Other Issues

Other regional issues were also discussed including the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, Kosovo, Sudan, Syria and Lebanon, Haiti, Zimbabwe, in addition to the Arms Trade Treaty concerning the international trade of conventional arms. A summary of the discussions was included in the Chairman's Statement.

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