G-8 Ends With Pledges of Unity on Iraq, Nukes

World leaders closed out their annual summit Tuesday by pledging to rebuild Iraq and combat the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran (search) and North Korea (search).

In a four-page closing statement, theGroup of Eight (search) 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.

Delivered by French President Jacques Chirac (search), the summit host, 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.

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 member of the Russian delegation told reporters Tuesday that Iran "must remove any doubts of its compliance with the (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) by June 16," the next meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors.

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 non-proliferation.

The statement closely reflected what the Bush administration has sought on both countries. Bush was not at the summit when they were released, however. He left early to meet with Mideast leaders in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

The G-8 leaders applauded Bush's new efforts to pursue a "road map" plan 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 final statement paper was a continuation of the effort the G-8 leaders 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.

The leaders sought to reassure worried financial markets that they were ready to work cooperatively to give a boost to the sluggish global economy. The statement talked about the need for countries to pursue structural reforms and improved productivity to boost growth.

"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."

Bush had been sitting next to Chirac. The leaders shifted their seats to avoid a conspicuously empty chair that would serve as a reminder of Bush's absence; British Prime Minister Tony Blair took Bush'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.

For the third straight night Monday, the protesters clashed with riot squads that fired tear gas, rubber pellets and a water cannon in nearby Geneva and at least two people were injured. However, the streets in Geneva were quiet on Tuesday.

After bidding farewell to the summit leaders, Chirac declared at a closing news conference that "the central theme of this summit was how to approach growth and show our determination to support it in the coming years."

The communique endorsed the large number of position papers they 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 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.

In Bush's absence, the leaders' dinner Monday night featured a discussion of a highly critical 18-page document prepared at an alternative summit last week attended by 1,000 anti-globalization activists.

That document called for creating international rules to curb pollution and enforce labor rights and for full debt relief for the world's poorest countries.

Making the anti-G-8 document a talking point for their final dinner underscored how Chirac went out of his way to structure a different kind of summit.

The French president's goal was to demonstrate to the world that the G-8 was not just capitalism's most exclusive club, but a collection of powerful nations taking into account the needs of the billions of people in the world living in poverty.

Chirac invited a record number of 11 world leaders from developing nations to participate in Sunday's opening day of talks, including China, Brazil and India.