G8 mulls tensions in Syria, Korean Peninsula

April 11, 2013 at 5:24 PM
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LONDON, April 11 (UPI) -- The European Union should consider lifting an embargo on arming rebels in Syria where militant jihadists are gaining influence, Group of Eight officials said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters in London -- where talks are under way among the G8 nations of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- there had been "no progress" on Syria.

Russia is an ally of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Hague said the ministers expressed increasing concern about the growing jihadist presence in Syria, and said the trend offered a strong case for lifting the European Union's ban on arms shipments to the rebel movement.

The G8 also issued a statement Thursday urging North Korea to tone down its "current aggressive rhetoric" toward the United States and South Korea, saying it could lead to further international isolation of Pyongyang. Britain's ITV said the wording of the statement might have been stronger but the ministers did not want to add fuel to the war of words.

President Barack Obama said after a White House meeting Thursday Syria's "humanitarian crisis has gotten worse" and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it the world's "most troubling situation."

On North Korea, Obama said he and Ban agreed Pyongyang should "end the kind of belligerent approach that they've been taking. And to try to lower temperatures."

"Nobody wants to see a conflict on the Korean peninsula," the president said. "But it's important for North Korea, like every other country in the world, to observe the basic rules and norms that are set forth, including a wide variety of U.N. resolutions."

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