World leaders closed out an annual summit Tuesday by pledging to rebuild Iraq and combat the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea.
In a four-page closing statement, the Group of Eight summit countries — the world's seven wealthiest nations and Russia — sought to move past their bitter divisions over the U.S.-led war in Iraq by declaring that they were united in the reconstruction effort.
The statement said the G-8 leaders "share the conviction that the time has now come to build peace and reconstruct Iraq."
"Our shared objective is a fully sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq," the G-8 leaders declared in the final statement, summarized by French President Jacques Chirac, the summit host, at a closing news conference.
The G-8 leaders put Iran and North Korea on notice that they will not stand by and allow them to acquire nuclear weapons, although there were differences between the United States and the other G-8 countries over how far the major powers were willing to go in pressuring Iran.
A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States reads the leaders' declaration as implicitly authorizing the use of force against countries that violate international nonproliferation norms.
But Chirac called this "a very bold interpretation."
"There never was any talk of using force whatsoever. We have to have a dialogue with Iran," Chirac said at the closing news conference.
A senior member of the Russian delegation told reporters Tuesday that there was general agreement among the leaders during their discussions that Iran "must remove any doubts of its compliance with the (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) by June 16," the next meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors.
Russia's aid in Iran's efforts to construct a nuclear power plant has raised concerns in the Bush administration that Iran is pursuing a secret plan to obtain the ability to make nuclear weapons.
On North Korea, the G-8 closing statement said that the leaders supported the efforts being made by countries in the region, including China, to prod North Korea to comply with its past commitments on nuclear nonproliferation.
The statement closely reflected what the United States has sought on both countries. President Bush was not at the summit when it was released, however. He left early to meet with Mideast leaders in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.
The G-8 leaders continued in the final statement the effort they launched on Sunday when the summit began to put the bitter divisions over Iraq behind them and show the world they are prepared to work together not only on reconstructing Iraq but a host of other problems.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who, like Chirac, opposed the war, told reporters, "It was clear that the past has not disappeared, but it is behind us."
The G-8 leaders applauded Mr. Bush's new efforts to pursue a "road map" to achieve a lasting Middle East peace. Their statement endorsed including Syria and Lebanon in a "comprehensive peace settlement" for the region and held out the prospect of financial assistance to rebuild the devastated Palestinian economy.
The leaders sought to reassure worried financial markets that they were ready to work cooperatively to give a boost to the sluggish global economy.
"Our economies face many challenges. However, major downside risks have receded and the conditions for a recovery are in place," the final statement declared. "We are confident in the growth potential of our economies."
President Bush had been sitting next to Chirac at G-8 sessions. The leaders shifted their seats to avoid a conspicuously empty chair that would serve as a reminder of Mr. Bush's absence; British Prime Minister Tony Blair took the U.S. seat at the group's final meeting.
The leaders met in the seclusion of a luxury hotel overlooking Lake Geneva, away from tens of thousands of demonstrators massed to express their unhappiness with globalization.
Hundreds of riot police with water cannons battled about 1,000 anti-G-8 protesters at nearby Geneva's main Mont Blanc bridge as a third night of violence shredded the city's peaceful image.
Elsewhere in the city, about an hour across the Swiss-French border from Evian, clashes continued into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Police used water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas against a group of several hundred demonstrators on the main road linking the railway station, leaving the normally busy thoroughfare littered with spent canisters and glass.
At least two people were injured. However, the streets in Geneva were quiet on Tuesday.
The demonstrators represent diverse causes. Many are against globalization, but others focus on protection of environment, fears about genetically modified foods, and forgiveness of Third World debt.
The summit's communiqué endorsed the large number of position papers the leaders had issued on Monday, covering everything from plans to keep terrorists from obtaining portable surface-to-air missiles to encouraging poor African countries to continue efforts to reform their economies as a way of attracting more foreign assistance from wealthy nations.
French officials said the wording of the final statement was reached while Mr. Bush was still in town, but the final statement did include a sentence added at the last minute regarding the Kyoto Protocol on curbing emissions of greenhouse gases.
The statement expressed the determination of G-8 countries that have ratified the agreement to see it enter into force. Bush has rejected the protocol.
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