G8 in Canada
Here are some, articles, a video and transcripts from the G8 in Canada today:
Secretary Clinton insisted that family planning needs to be part of any comprehensive maternal health initiatives:
Any global plan to enhance maternal health must include strategies to boost access to birth control and abortion, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a visit here Tuesday, fanning the flames of a raging Canadian debate.
“You can not have maternal health without reproductive health,” Clinton said during a news conference with G8 foreign ministers. “And reproductive health includes contraception, and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to make maternal health a top priority for the G8, touching off a controversy over whether access to contraception and abortion should be part of the plan.
Clinton said the American position is to promote contraception as a way to prevent abortion and called the extraordinary rate of maternal deaths due to a lack of family planning “a great tragedy.” But she insisted governments should steer clear from intervening in “areas of such intimacy.”
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Clinton’s comments show how “offside” the Harper Conservatives are on the issue and let ideology get in the way of playing a leadership role at the G8.
“It has now caused major problems for putting the issue of the health of women and children to the forefront and it’s a problem of their own making. It’s very unfortunate,” he said.
Liberal MP and foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said the remarks highlight the Conservatives credibility gap with the world on the maternal health file.
“A government that’s controlled by a neo-conservative agenda is not, in today’s world, going to be able to fashion a serious consensus either with the Europeans or with the Americans,” he said.
Here is the video of the joint press availability:
And of course, Iran was on the menu. Always Iran:
Group of Eight leaders on Tuesday called for stepped up pressure on Iran to abandon its suspect nuclear programme and urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to rein in militants.
“While G8 ministers agreed to remain open to dialogue with Iran, they also called on the international community to take appropriate steps to put pressure on Iran,” Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said at the end of two days of talks in the Canadian town of Gatineau.
Iran’s defiance, lack of transparency in the construction of an uranium enrichment facility near Qom, and refusal to engage the international community are of “serious concern” to the G8, Cannon said.
G8 foreign ministers urged “in the strongest possible terms” that Iran cooperate with five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, amid fears that Tehran is trying to acquire a nuclear bomb.
With international momentum building for a new sanctions regime, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton predicted that if Iran continued to ignore global pleas the UN Security Council would soon reach a consensus on further sanctions.
“The last 15 months have demonstrated clearly the unwillingness of Iran to fulfill its international obligations,” Clinton said, flanked by her G8 counterparts.
“I think that the next weeks will be ones of intense negotiation in the Security Council among not only members of the Security Council but many interested countries,” Clinton said.
In Washington, US President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy also upped the pressure on the Islamic republic, which has hotly denied the accusations saying its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.
Obama said he hoped to impose new international nuclear sanctions on Iran within “weeks” but admitted Washington did “not yet” have global agreement to do so….
Then there are these interesting photos of a more outdoorsy nature, taken at the G8:
This is from a press availability with the G8 ministers:
…QUESTION: (Speaking in French.)
So allow me to repeat in English, as I’d like especially Ms. Clinton to answer this question. As you know, Canada wants to make maternal health a priority of the G-8, and you probably are aware of – there’s a debate in Canada as to whether or not family planning, contraception, and even abortion is part of this initiative. So you’re probably aware, coming from the United States, that this has been a debate in your country. So —
MODERATOR: We’ll keep it to one question per (inaudible). Thank you.
QUESTION: Yes, so I want – same question. So I want to know, do you think that abortion and contraception should be part of this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to speak for what Canada decides, but I will say that I’ve worked in this area for many years. And if we’re talking about maternal health, you cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.
Obviously, the extraordinary rate of maternal deaths that still occur in our world in countries where women do not have access to family planning remains a great tragedy. I’ve also been very involved in promoting family planning and contraception as a way to prevent abortion. If you are concerned about abortion, then women should have access to family planning.
And finally, I do not think governments should be involved in making these decisions. It is perfectly legitimate for people to hold their own personal views based on conscience, religion, or any other basis. But I’ve always believed that the government should not intervene in decisions of such intimacy. And we can see through history what happens when governments do. When governments have a policy of one child, as China has had, and where that policy is implemented by forced abortions, that is abhorrent. And when governments like the communist government in Romania had policies promoting five children per women, which denied women the opportunity to plan their own families, the result was a tragic problem with children being given up and being put into orphanages.
So this is an issue of great concern to me and to my government, and we are promoting a global health initiative that will emphasize maternal and child health, and we are promoting a greater access to contraception – both male and female contraception – and we are also looking for ways to make women’s choices so that they can avoid abortion – more realistic by providing support for them.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We’ll go to the Italian media, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Good morning. I have a question for Italian Minister Mr. Frattini and for the USA Secretary of State Ms. Clinton. It’s about the drug traffic and its international demands. What do you think the G-8 can do for – to address this problem? Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: Well, we’re talking about this very important issue, which is an issue that is becoming increasingly important, because for example, think about Latin America, Caribbeans, and Mexico – these region of origin of drug trafficking. And we have the institutional and, I would say, moral duty to help countries in that region to face, to prevent – to face and fight drug trafficking. Also, because it is in our own interests as Western countries, as European countries – United States, Europe, G-8 countries have an interest, for example, to block this Western road coming through Africa going north to Portugal, Spain, and Europe.
There is another region in the world which is a matter of serious concern on drug trafficking – yes, Afghanistan. Russia is cooperating as G-8 state, but we all have an interest to try to find a viable way to prevent and fight drug trafficking coming from Afghanistan, and how to replace poppy cultivation while not just destroying cultivation, but replacing in order to avoid people being desperate, people – because they lose their job as farmers, for example.
So on this point, we believe that it’s necessary that G-8 countries and regional organization – think about ECOWAS in Africa – have a stronger and closer cooperation in order to address together organized crime and drug trafficking, which is transnational crime. I also mention the importance that the 10th anniversary of the signature of the so-called Palermo Convention, which – UN convention against organized crime – we will take stock of the progress made on the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking, which is affecting all the G-8 state, but – not only G-8 state, but poorer states are increasingly affected by this crime.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would certainly agree with everything Franco said and just add the following points. We discussed this at some length during our meeting today, because there’s also linkage between the drug traffickers and the criminal cartels that support not only trafficking in drugs, but trafficking in arms and human beings and terrorism. In fact, there is growing evidence that terrorists obtain a certain funding stream from illicit activity like drug trafficking.
So the G-8 is going to be looking into this and exploring in greater detail what we can do to try to stand against the unfortunate consequences of the criminal drug cartels, because we’re not talking about occasional recreational drug use. We’re talking about well-armed, brutal gangs that prey on innocent people, prey on lawful authority, and challenge the writ of the state in a country like Mexico and Central America and now in West Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
So this has become a big security threat and we will be consulting during the course of this year in looking for ways that we can increase our cooperation and coordination in the effort against the drug cartels.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. Mr. Cannon, I was wondering if you would answer this question in both English and French, but I’d also like to invite the other ministers here to respond as well. A number of you came to this conference speaking in very strong terms about Iran’s nuclear program, and Canada raised the prospect of the G-8 committing to collective sanctions as a group. But in your statements today, you haven’t used the word “sanctions.”
So I’m wondering if you would tell me what prevented you all agreeing on a call for sanctions here. Was it something between this group or is the elephant not in the room – the fact that China is not here – and you want to give them time to come along this road toward sanctions as well?
FOREIGN MINISTER CANNON: Well, let me take the first crack at that, Campbell. It wasn’t our intention as hosts of the G-8 to put together standalone statements in terms of sanctions that could be taken against Iran. This meeting offered us the opportunity to be able to take stock of where the discussions were. We were all praised of how those discussions are going. Needless to say, we do, as a group, feel that the United Nations Security Council is the premier forum for actions and we certainly will be following this – the situation as it evolves over the course of the coming weeks, indeed the coming months.
And maybe Secretary of State Clinton can add, and then Foreign Minister Lavrov.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that speaking for the United States, we did not expect to see any kind of statement along the lines of what you’re describing coming out of the G-8. The G-8 is not, as Lawrence said, the negotiating forum for the creation of a resolution that outlines the imposition of effective sanctions against Iran in response to their nuclear weapons program.
This was informational. We exchanged views. We discussed the importance of the international community addressing the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. And I, for one, was very satisfied by the results of that conversation. But I think it’s important to underscore that the negotiating forum that we are all focused on is the United Nations Security Council. Some of us are members, others of us are not, but all of us share a concern on behalf of the international community about what it would mean to regional and global stability, were Iran to pursue successfully their efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon.
So I think that Lawrence’s summary is exactly on point. We have a lot of work to do in the UN. We’re making slow but steady progress in making the case and in trying to do the drafting that will embody what it is we’re attempting to achieve with respect to sanctions. So I came away very heartened by the understanding and support of the G-8 countries.
QUESTION: Minister Lavrov.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Iran oil – that’s what – naturally why we exchanged our views. And this is all written down in the resolute that was written by our chairman. These are the results of our summit and I think it was useful in a way concerning other fora that are recognized by everyone concerning the Iran nuclear program – that is, first of all, it’s IAEA, the council of governors, the Security Council of the UN that has already adopted several resolutions to its support that (inaudible) of IAEA and the Group 3+3 that is represented here, including China. It’s part of it. So it wouldn’t be ethical for us during this meeting, which is not negotiation, to make a decision on Iran ahead of them.
QUESTION: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER MILIBAND: Well, thank you, Lawrence. I think it’s very important that you hear the message that the eight of us gave to each other during the talks yesterday and today. There was a very high degree of unity in respect of our mounting concern about the failure of Iran to respond in any kind of adequate way, both to the offer from the E3+3 that was first made in May 2008, and secondly the more recent IAEA offer in respect of the Tehran research reactor. That mounting concern is matched by a determined unity when it comes to our goal, which is to ensure that Iran does not become a nuclear weapons state in contravention of its own commitments to the nonproliferation treaty.
There’s also a very high degree of unity around the strategy to achieve that goal. It’s a twin-track strategy which refuses to say that there is an alternative between engagement on the one hand and pressure on the other. The two go together. We have all, all eight of us, strongly welcomed the engagement that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been arguing for since January the 20th, 2009. That offer of engagement remains on the table. But the parallel track, the adjoining track, is one of pressure.
And we know that the Iranian economy is in a state which is enfeebling a country. Remember, this is a country which in 1979 had the – a GDP the same as South Korea, and now it’s half of the level of South Korea. It’s a country blessed with massive gas reserves but is having to do very large importing of oil and gas. And so I think it’s – of refined products. So I think it’s very, very important that a clear message goes out about our determination to secure the end goal and to take forward the strategic tactics that will be necessary. This is not the forum in which they will be taking place, as both Secretary Clinton and Minister Lavrov have said. But the political unity, I think, is very important and very resounding.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Japan, NHK.
QUESTION: Thank you, (inaudible) from NHK TV Japan. My question is still about Iranian issue. Madam Secretary, Secretary Clinton, how much are you confident that the consonance that you have among the eight parties are strong enough now to convince China to get onboard in the Security Council discussions to add more sanctions against Tehran?
And a very quick follow-up to avoid confusion among the Japanese press. Yesterday, you had a meeting with the Japanese Minister Okada about (inaudible) air base matter. And can we – is it correct for us to understand that now you have the position different from previous ones, or do you still hold the opinion that the current relocation plan is the best solution to this matter? Thank you, Madam.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first on the latter question, we still hold the opinion that the original plan is preferable. But as I have told Minister Okada, we are ready to consider proposals that the Japanese Government may make to us. We are committed to the defense of Japan, our ally, our partner, our friend over many decades. And we hold a view as to what is the most effective way to pursue and implement that, but of course, we’re going to continue to listen to and consult with the Japanese Government.
With respect to Iran, I believe we are making progress. I think that the next weeks will be ones of intense negotiations in the Security Council among not only members of the Security Council but many interested countries, some of whom are here on the dais. We see a growing awareness on the part of many countries, including China, as to the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran to regional and global stability, to our oil supply, and we think that there will be a consensus reached as to the best way forward.
And to reiterate a point that Secretary Miliband made, sanctions are part of diplomacy. We chose a two-pronged strategy on engagement and on pressure should engagement not succeed. But sanctions are a form of the overall diplomatic approach that the United States and others have made on this issue. And we think that the work that President Obama and the Obama Administration has undertaken in the last 15 months to reach out to Iran, the people of Iran, the Government of Iran, demonstrates our sincerity and good faith efforts on engagement. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the response forthcoming that would create the atmosphere in which we could actually discuss these matters with Iranian counterparts.
There have also been a number of developments, including the disclosure of a secret facility at Qom, the announcement of more facilities to be developed, the announcement of greater efforts at enrichment, the refusal of the joint Russian, French, and American proposal to reprocess and enrich the uranium needed for the Tehran research reactor, and on and on. So the last 15 months have demonstrated clearly the unwillingness of Iran to fulfill its international obligations, and that’s the basis on which I expressed my optimism that we’re going to have a consensus reached in the Security Council.
FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Just to follow up, I think, an important point, there’s one other thing which has changed in the last 15 months which is not directly about the nuclear question but is highly relevant to the world’s relations with Iran. That concerns the very large-scale protests on the streets of Iran about the presidential election result, about the counting of the result, and then the subsequent repression of those demonstrations. Not a single country on this platform believes it’s for us to choose the government of Iran. That is something for the Iranian people.
But when it comes to expressing solidarity with the people of Iran, people who are demanding that their most basic rights are respected, then the United Kingdom stands very strongly behind Lawrence Cannon’s summary which describes the widespread concern about the repression that has taken place. The truth is there are two Irans: One is fearful, close-minded and repressive; the other Iran is an educated, cultured, deeply civilized society which wants to be open and engaged with the world while retaining the characteristics of an Islamic republic. And the tragedy is that the regime seeks to obscure that second Iran. As far as we’re concerned, that adds to the complexity of negotiating and engaging with Iran, but it doubles or triples our commitment to do so, because this is a people who should be engaged with the international community, respecting their own traditions and their own beliefs, but part of the great social and economic mainstream, not separate from it.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) I would like to revisit the original issue raised by the Japanese (inaudible) concerning Iran. We don’t see many controversies inside the organization. One thing I would like to mention would be incorrect to formulate the issue in such a way that this group or any other group of organizations to convince China. China is an independent, self-contained country that pursues its own position. It’s a permanent member of the Security Council and it will retain its positions, taking into account the opinions of other countries. To portray the issue as for us to convince one individual country wouldn’t be correct.
MODERATOR: AFP (inaudible).
QUESTION: My question is on Afghanistan. The G-8 issued a very strong statement urging President Karzai to do more on many issues. What can the G-8 do to ensure it will make these improvements, and when?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the situation in Afghanistan about which we spoke at some length during our meeting in the last two days is cause for both optimism and caution. On the optimism side, I believe that we are employing a strategy that is working. It is working on both the military and the civilian front. The recent military action in Marjah, which was immediately followed by civilian development experts, reconstruction, governance, rule of law, agriculture, education, and so much more, is exactly the kind of combined approach that we believe has the best chance for success.
We also are well aware that, as we discussed at the London conference on Afghanistan, there has to be a political element that will lead to a resolution of the conflict, at least to some extent, by taking soldiers, Taliban fighters, off the battlefield and also looking for those political leaders who are willing to renounce violence and al-Qaida, follow the constitution of Afghanistan, and re-enter society.
The caution is, of course, for sustainable progress and development that leads to stability, the most important player in this is not any of us or other members of the international community, but the government and people of Afghanistan. I think we can look back over the last several months and see that the new government headed by a reelected President Karzai has done a number of things that had been promised and delivered on for the international community, but the jury is still out on other issues. So it’s like any complex situation; there are reasons to feel positive about our progress, and then there’s still a lot of work to be done. But certainly, the countries here in the G-8 are all committed to a peaceful, stable Afghanistan that can not only create a political environment that ends the ongoing insurgency that threatens beyond its borders, but also reaches a new status of being at peace with its neighbors in the region.
So we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we have reason to feel positive about the direction we’re headed.
FOREIGN MINISTER CANNON: I’d just add, if you may, that I do believe it is important to be able to ensure that we have, yes, the actions that are taking place on the ground; yes, the direct contact we do have with the Karzai government to be able to make sure that ultimately the Afghans themselves will be able to lead this country. But I am particularly proud as host of this meeting that we did buy into the Afghan-Pakistan Prosperity Initiative. We all feel around the table that it’s extremely important to be able to, if one wants to foster economic development and create those conditions that will stem global terrorism and terrorism in that region, we have to find opportunities where both these countries can indeed progress, and as well, countries in that region.
Secretary Clinton was talking to us this morning about a bumper year crop in terms of how the agricultural sector seems to be picking up. Of course, we have to look at it as a long process, not necessarily a process from one month to another, but to be able to look at what has been actually achieved and the direction that it’s taking. So we’re quite – I personally am very, very pleased with the outcome of what was discussed today, and also pleased with the progress that’s being made.
FOREIGN MINISTER OKADA: (Via interpreter) I would like to continue along the lines of what was just said. In the – at the London Afghanistan conference, really opened a new chapter, a new beginning, and this new beginning at the London conference had two complements. On the one hand, a very clear commitment by the Afghan Government for good governance, for reintegration, reconciliation, combating corruption, and reconstruction of the economy and social reconstruction. And at the same time, there was aid approved because those things are closely linked. The international community will stand by its commitments. Also, the countries that are represented here are very clear of their own commitments and obligations, and therefore it is very important that in Afghanistan we see very visible, concrete results. And this is necessary in the light of a future Afghanistan conference to be held in Kabul, and that is why the decisions reached here and the statement that was published is of utmost importance in the light of the need of having very concrete results so that the decisions taken in London are not swept away by the sand but really materialize in a very concrete manner in results. And therefore it is a matter of forging ahead and this London Afghanistan conference which we consider to be very important that also now reflect in concrete results.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We’ll go to ARD Sterling, Michael Gottienberg, and then we’ll go the last question.
QUESTION: I’d like to come back to the Iranian issue, if I may. First of all, a question to Minister Westerwelle, which you can answer in German again, please. Considering that you are one of those openly calling for sanctions, new sanctions, are you satisfied with the signal sent to Iran today from here? Even though it’s not the UN, it would have been a possibility to send a strong signal.
And then I’d like to ask Minister Lavrov, if I may —
MODERATOR: We have one question per media (inaudible).
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then.
FOREIGN MINISTER WESTERWELLE: (Via interpreter) I’m very satisfied with the conclusions and the statement agreed by all of us. I’m satisfied because it sends a very clear signal as to the decisive opinion of countries represented here in terms of supporting nuclear nonproliferation. Disarmament and nonproliferation are two sides of the same coin or medal, and this is something that is highly visible in the statement issued.
Now regarding this issue of sanctions, Iran, of course, is entitled and has a right for peaceful use of atomic energy, but they’re also obliged to provide transparency and guarantee that no nuclear weapons will develop in Iran. And that would have a very destabilizing effect in the region, but also throughout the rest of the world. And that is why we are not a body that makes decisions, but rather we try to synchronize our postures. Decisions as such are made, as my colleague said, in the adequate and pertinent format at the national level and in the 3-plus format, and that is where decisions will come from.
For us, the situation is quite clear. We extend our hand in friendship. We want results through dialogue. But if Iran is not willing to cooperate and does not provide the transparency, we will be one of the states that will be in favor of sanctions.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We’ll go to the last question, ITAR-TASS, Tatiana (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) So my question is for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last week, the President and – of the United States and Russia achieved on the START treaty. And I would like to hear the final U.S. position on how committed it is to the balance between strategic offensive and defensive weapons in view of the plans of the United States to deploy its weapons in Europe. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very pleased that the treaty known as new START that has been negotiated will be signed next week in Prague by our two presidents, President Obama and President Medvedev. We think it’s a very strong signal of both of our countries’ commitment to the serious goal of decreasing our nuclear arsenals and standing against the proliferation of nuclear and other dangerous weapons. And we have also discussed over the course of this past year ways that we can better cooperate on other important matters, including exploring the potential cooperation around missile defense.
We believe that the United States and Russia, being the largest nuclear arsenal states in the world, have a special obligation. But speaking for the United States, we recognize the new threats that are coming that are aimed at both of our countries, at Europe, at the Middle East and elsewhere from rogue regimes like North Korea that already has nuclear weapons, and regimes like that in Iran that are clearly seeking nuclear weapons.
So we think there has to be a balance between offensive and defensive weapons, and that it would be in the world’s interests for the United States and Russia to cooperate on helping not only to protect ourselves, but protect other nations from the potential of attacks from either rogue states or terrorist networks. And we’re going to continue to discuss that in the future.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Of course, since this is a bilateral agreement, just – this treaty is legally binding, and in addition to very important issues related to unprecedented reduction in nuclear arsenals, and in addition to important agreements on verification which is built on increased confidence and trust, we have to find a balance between strategic defense and offensive weapons.
And this treaty has built for all the important mechanisms that ensure the rights of each side. How and in what ways do you ensure its security? Should this interrelationship be broken? And the work that Secretary Clinton has referred to on the nuclear missile defense, we have every reason to believe that this interrelationship is not going to be violated or broken. We have full confidence in our American colleagues.
And we made it clear to the Obama Administration that we wish to cooperate on nuclear nonproliferation, and the starting point would be to analyze all the existing risks, and then to take all the necessary steps to neutralize these risks. And we attach principal significance to this treaty and I’m sure that every effort will be made to ensure the integrity of this treaty.
MODERATOR: Thank you. So with this, this concludes the press conference. Thank you very much, everybody.
A couple of things about the highlighted portion of the transcript above. With respect to Iran- the “secret” facility at Qom has been known to the U.S. government for years– how is that then a recent development or even a secret facility? Granted, the media didn’t know about it nor did some in the international community, but the U.S. did. The refusal of Iran to play according to international rules regarding engaging in nuclear activities is extremely frustrating and suspicious, but they do have a right to a peaceful, civilian program and when the U.S. or international community talks about “new” Iranian facilities or their enrichment activities/capabilities, it would help if they would say whether they know for certain that they are being used for military purposes or for civilian purposes because that matters. I don’t want Iran to have a nuclear program but I also don’t like the pre-Iraq War deja vu I am having when I listen to people build their case for either a) “crippling” sanctions and/or b) a possible military option. I guess I wish it sounded like the U.S. had more concrete evidence of an actual working nuclear weapons program as opposed to suspicion and circumstantial evidence. I am also concerned that there doesn’t seem to be much discussion of the possible consequences of either a or b in terms of U.S. or regional security both in the long and short-term.
I also fully realize that I could be totally wrong about all of this. I honestly don’t have a brilliant idea about how to reign in Iran while preventing an anti-American backlash or without negatively effecting ordinary Iranian citizens. I guess I am just concerned that down the road we may end up sending more young American men and women to fight a questionable war and after all of Bush’s lies which led to the Iraq War, I’d just like to be certain that next time around we would make sure to raise the bar and be very, very careful not to make the same mistake again.