Last Updated: Thu May 26, 2011 15:27 pm (KSA) 12:27 pm (GMT)

G8 urges an end to violence in Syria, Libya and peace talks between Israel and Palestine

US President Barack Obama (left) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (center) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (right) wave to the crowd outside the Centre International de Deauville as they arrive to join G8 summit in Deauville. (File Photo)
US President Barack Obama (left) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (center) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (right) wave to the crowd outside the Centre International de Deauville as they arrive to join G8 summit in Deauville. (File Photo)

The Group of Eight (G8) powers urged for an end to violence in Syria and Libya, and called for immediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The G8 meeting saw a massive security operation involving 12,500 police officers, backed by boats and spotter helicopters, blanketing the chic resort of Deauville on the northern French coast as the leaders arrived at the seafront venue, Agence-France Presse reported.

The Middle East took a good chunk of the G8 discussion in addition to Japan’s ordeal following the March 11 disasters and sought ways of improving global nuclear safety after the Fukushima accident.

Addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the leaders urged Damascus to end violent repression and carry out reform, as they sought ways to encourage democracy in their first meeting since the "Arab Spring" uprisings.

"We call on the Syrian leadership to stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to engage in dialogue and fundamental reforms in response to the legitimate expression of the demands of the Syrian people," the draft, obtained by AFP, said.

According to a draft version of their planned declaration, the leaders of the world's richest nations were also to urge immediate Israel-Palestinian peace talks, and

G8 member Russia had previously spoken out firmly against foreign intervention in its traditional Middle East ally, and earlier this month rejected calls for a special United Nations Security Council meeting on the country.

On Libya, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that his country had not yet decided whether to send Apache helicopter gunships to target the forces of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

It has been widely reported that Britain is to join France in sending army choppers to join the NATO campaign against Mr. Qaddafi to fast-forward the toppling of the beleaguered Libyan leader, and to strike with far more precision to protect civilians in the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata.

"We are looking at ways to turn up the pressure, including helicopters. When we are ready to make an announcement we'll make an announcement," he said.

Britain and France between them account for the majority of air strikes carried out by coalition forces against Mr. Qaddafi’s troops.

NATO says it has seriously degraded the Libyan leader's military machine with air strikes from combat jets, but helicopters would help the alliance strike regime assets hidden in urban areas.

France hosted a so-called "e-G8" on Tuesday and Wednesday in Paris, a gathering of the biggest names in the online industry to discuss ways of regulating the Internet without killing its economic potential. The G8 backed a government role in policing the Internet.

(Dina Al Shibeeb, an editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at dina.ibrahim@mbc.net)

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