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Crises in Syria and Korea to dominate G8 talks in London

Iran’s atomic ambitions, instability in north and west Africa, and climate change will also be up for discussion.

North Koreans punch the air during a rally in North Korea on 29 March in support of their Kim Jong Un's call to arms.
North Koreans punch the air during a rally in North Korea on 29 March in support of their Kim Jong Un's call to arms.
Image: (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

US SECRETARY OF of State John Kerry and other G8 foreign ministers are meeting in London for a second day of talks which are expected to focus on Syria after rebels again appealed for weapons.

The ministers are also set to discuss the ongoing threats of war by North Korea.

The ministers kicked off their gathering over dinner late last night, shortly after Syrian opposition leaders met with Kerry about their repeated calls for arms to fight the Syrian regime forces.

But a top jihadist group’s earlier pledge of loyalty to Al-Qaeda deepened Western concerns that weapons could fall into the wrong hands in Syria.

The US and EU are currently providing non-lethal aid such as communications equipment, and are beginning to distribute food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army, but have stopped short of providing weaponry.

The talks with members of the opposition Syrian National Coalition included its prime minister Ghassan Hitto.

Military manoeuvres

Regarding the crisis on the Korean peninsula, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against heating it up with military manoeuvres, but stressed that Moscow and Washington had a common stand.

“One just shouldn’t scare anyone with military manoeuvres and there’s a chance that everything will calm down,” he added, without specifying which countries he believed were carrying out such military exercises.

Kerry and Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida also met about the North Korea threat, according to a senior State Department official.

“They also discussed the special role China can play in exerting pressure on the North Korean leadership… and he (Kerry) emphasized the importance of continuing to put pressure on North Korea with economic sanctions,” added the spokesman.

Iran’s atomic ambitions, instability in north and west Africa, and climate change will also be up for discussion, according to Britain’s Foreign Office.

The Group of Eight rich nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. Britain, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the group this year, will host a leaders’ summit in Northern Ireland in June.

Additional reporting © AFP, 2013

Read: South Korea raises alert as North Korea missile test looks likely >

More: Ireland to give extra €1m in aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey >

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Amy Croffey

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