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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
G8 united on rebuilding Iraq
Summit delegates share a joke in Evian
A notable absentee on the last day was the US president
The G8 group of leading industrialised nations has ended its annual summit with a declaration of unity over the future of Iraq.

In a final statement on Tuesday, world leaders said their aim was a "fully sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq".

The G8 - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and US - said they "share the conviction that the time has now come to build peace and to reconstruct Iraq".

The three-day summit hosted by France provided the first opportunity for some of the leaders - notably the US and French presidents - to meet since sharp differences developed over military action in Iraq.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says that politically, the summit turned into a damage limitation exercise after the big power divisions over the Iraq war, which was strongly opposed by France, Germany and Russia.

But at his final news conference, President Jacques Chirac repeated that any military action not backed by the Security Council was illegal, and also called for a spirit of dialogue and multi-lateralism.

The statement at the end of the meeting in the resort town of Evian also expressed determination to support the latest US efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, and said delegates had discussed the "desirability" of a comprehensive settlement including Syria and Lebanon.

The document also voiced concern over reports of mounting violence against opposition activists in Zimbabwe, and called on the government of Robert Mugabe to respect the right to peaceful demonstration.

US President George W Bush was not present for the summit's final session on Tuesday, having left the previous day on the Middle Eastern leg of his foreign tour.

Tackling terror

The summit focused in part on the fight against terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

In a separate statement issued on Monday, the G8 called global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction "the pre-eminent threat to international security".

What summit pictures reveal about post-war relationships

It said the world community had to use weapons inspections, export controls "and, if necessary, other measures" to tackle the threat of these weapons.

"We strongly urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear weapons programmes," said the statement.

It added that Iran's nuclear programme could also lead to weapons production.

Russia has been helping Iran build a nuclear reactor, which US officials strongly oppose.

President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Evian on Tuesday that Russia would insist that all Iran's nuclear programmes remain under the control of the UN's nuclear watchdog.

But he also declared Moscow would "continue to co-operate" with its neighbour.

Rapprochement

The French president met his US counterpart on Monday for talks, which both said had been held in a positive and constructive atmosphere.

The two men appeared relaxed though correspondents say the atmosphere behind the scenes remained prickly.

At their meeting, Mr Chirac told Mr Bush that he would send special forces to work alongside US troops in Afghanistan in addition to the French forces already there.

It was also agreed that Mr Chirac should visit Mr Bush in the US later this year.

The summit has been marred by violence in nearby Swiss towns, with thousands of protesters clashing with riot police for a third night in Geneva.

Police used tear gas, rubber pellets and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators, who staged a sit-in after refusing to be searched by police.

And at the weekend, masked rioters destroyed and looted shops in Geneva before police cleared the streets.




SEE ALSO:
France and US patch up quarrel
02 Jun 03  |  Europe
Russia 'halting Iran nuclear help'
02 Jun 03  |  Middle East
Behind the French-US bonhomie
02 Jun 03  |  Europe


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