G8 COUNTRIES APPROVE OF ISRAELI LAUNCHED INDEPENDENT GAZA FLOTILLA INQUIRY COMMISSION – G8 REITERATES CALL FOR GILAD SHALIT RELEASE

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U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 summit
in Huntsville, Ontario on June 26, 2010

TORONTO — G-8 leaders meeting in Canada today focused their attention on Gaza and Iran.

While expressing regret for the loss of life on the Mavi Marmara, the G-8 said it approved of Israel’s decision to set up an independent investigative commission into the incident.

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In addition, the G-8 asked all parties to abide by UNSC 1860 to guarantee the stream of humanitarian aid to Gaza, calling for a change to existing policies.

G-8 leaders welcomed the Israeli government’s decision to ease the blockade and urged “full and effective implementation of this policy in order to address the needs of Gaza’s population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity”. They added that Israel’s security concerns were legitimate and needed to be protected.

Reiterating its statement from the previous year, the G-8 demanded the immediate release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

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Additionally, the G-8 called on all states to implement UNSC resolution 1929 and expressed deep concern for Iran’s lack of transparency regarding its nuclear program and declared intention to enrich uranium to almost 20 percent. “Our goal is to persuade Iran’s leaders to engage in a transparent dialogue about its nuclear activities and to meet Iran’s international obligations.”

The G-8 statement on Iran comes on the heels of the US House of Representatives vote for its own new, and harsher, sanctions against Teheran on Friday.

“After recent years of trying to work through the dual track approach, the countries have decided to take more stringent actions against Iran despite hesitation from some, particularly Russia. It is not surprising that the countries decided to specify their support for UNSC 1929 because of recent activities and discussion on these issues. It will be interesting to see if these discussions are carried on to the G-20 in light of Brazil and Turkey’s recent activity on this issue,” said Jenilee Guebert, Director of Research at the G-8 Research Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

During last year’s summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the G-8 urged Iran to comply with existing UNSC resolutions and the IAEA with regard to its nuclear program and emphasized their commitment to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels. L’Aquila was also the first time the G-8 mentioned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by name and condemned his declarations denying the Holocaust.

In March, G-8 foreign ministers reiterated their support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and continued commitment to work toward the reduction of nuclear weapons and the cessation of all nuclear weapons test explosions. The foreign ministers statement echoed the G-8’s past commitments to the NPT at the 2009 summit in L’Aquila, and in Hokkaido, Japan, in 2008.

See Related: ISRAEL

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