G7 Summit: Seven pass judgement on the rest

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The Independent Online
TOKYO - There are four categories of nations in the world: the villains, the suspects, the convalescents, and those who pass judgement on the first three. The good, in the shape of the world's seven richest democracies, today issue their annual political declaration on the bad, the less bad and the ugly. The document, subtitled 'Towards a more secure and humane world', is confined to two pages which one official described as 'short, punchy and readable'.

The villains will include the three menaces of the Middle East - Iran, Iraq and Libya. The latter two for failing to comply with United Nations resolutions over the Gulf war ceasefire and Lockerbie; the first, hardly mentioned in the original draft, gets a brow-beating for allegedly accumulating weapons of mass destruction, exporting terrorism and violating human rights.

Officials say the condemnation of Iran was 'strengthened' at the request of Britain, which makes a policy of bringing Tehran's fatwa against Salman Rushdie under any international umbrella it can find.

Yugoslavia is expected to constitute the longest paragraph of the document, with villain Serbia and suspect Croatia told they cannot dictate the terms of any settlement at the expense of the Bosnian Muslims. President Slobodan Milosevic gets a specially damning mention for demanding the withdrawal of international observers from Kosovo. In addition, the European foreign ministers in Tokyo last night held an emergency meeting to threaten sending an EC troika to Belgrade.

North Korea hovers somewhere between nasty and suspect, having agreed, for now, not to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but mistrusted for having threatened to do so in the first place.

The suspects include Ukraine, which is urged to control its wayward nuclear arsenal and sign the Start arms control treaty as soon as possible. Russia, which unlike Ukraine has won financial support as an incentive for signing Start, falls firmly into the category of convalescent, as the Seven declare their support for democratic and free-market reforms initiated by President Boris Yeltsin. The declaration expresses the hope that Ukraine, too, may soon fall into the category of convalescent, as it hails the country's reform process and talks between Mr Yeltsin and President Leonid Kravchuk as a good sign.

Other convalescents include Haiti, for restoring its rightful ruler in the shape of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; South Africa, for setting a date for non- racial elections; Cambodia, for the peaceful conduct of its recent election; and Lebanon, for its efforts at reconstruction.

More noticeably, Israel also falls into the convalescent category: the United States yesterday made a point of saying the Seven were issuing their first flat call for a lifting of the Arab trade boycott against the Jewish state (previous G7 declarations have made a quid pro quo regarding the rights of the Palestinians). This year, the text was expected only to demand that Israel 'fulfil its obligations' towards the occupied territories. The sop to Israel is intended as encouragement from a Democrat administration, whose efforts at keeping alive the peace process have been undermined by charges of a pro- Israeli bias.

Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, devoted his speech at last night's foreign ministers' dinner to recalling the interests of the Palestinians. Whatever the individual agendas expressed by Washington and its allies in the document, however, the brevity of the declaration appeared to ensure that no major point of contention arose in the deliberations.

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