Summit condemns 'barbarous' attack

G7 in Lyons: French keep Saudi attack on separate agenda

MARY DEJEVSKY

Lyons

Leaders of the world's seven richest nations pledged last night to unite their efforts tocombat terrorism and agreed to hold a ministerial meeting next month in Paris to discuss specific measures.

In an official statement, issued after the dinner inaugurating their annual summit inLyons, the Group of Seven industrialised countries condemned "the barbarous and unjustified" attack on US servicemen in Saudi Arabia earlier this week and expressed "total solidarity with the United States and Saudi Arabia".

The statement said that tragedies such as the killing at Dhahran "only strengthen our conviction that terrorism constitutes a major challenge for the security of all our societies and states".

The decision to call a meeting of ministers next month suggested that the host country, France, had resisted moves by the US to make the summit "an anti-terrorist summit" and had managed to save the original agenda, which includes subjects such as third world aid and employment which are dear to the French president, Jacques Chirac.

Earlier in the day, President Clinton, looking uncharacteristically tired and drawn, had described terrorism as "the security challenge of the 21st century" and called for the summit to concentrate on terrorism. It had earlier been announced that he was bringing forward his planned departure from France to Saturday evening, to attend Sunday church services in Florida with families of the dead servicemen.

The decision to address terrorism at a separate forum also removes a factor that could have complicated discussion of the controversial new US legislation, the Helms-Burton law, which has already become a major point of discord at this summit. Europe accuses the US of trying to exercise extraterritorial authority by threatening to punish not just US companies that trade with Cuba, but foreign companies as well.

Yesterday, in a significant toughening of the opposition to the law, President Chirac threatened that Europe could consider retaliatory measures if Washington persisted in applying the law, while Canada joined Europe in expressing its strong opposition, leaving the US effectively isolated.

Although US spokesmen denied that Washington had any intention of changing the legislation, both the president of the European Commission, Jacques Santer, and senior French officials suggested that Washington recognised that the law presented a problem and might be prepared to soften it.

In a pre-emptive move, Mr Santer obliquely warned the US against trying to use the Dhahran attack as justification either for the Helms-Burton law as it stands, or for its possible extension to Iran and Libya.

In a statement forcefully condemning the latest attack, he said: "In clear cases where countries fund, promote or harbour terrorists, and if all the signs show that negotiation and dialogue will not work, then the international community must act, if necessary through sanctions." He went on: "In such cases we must be careful to ensure that the punishment hits the criminal and fits the crime." He subsequently defended the EU's policy towards Iran, where it supports what he called "critical dialogue".

The growing pressure on the US over the Helms-Burton law adds to the differences that exist among the G7 countries, especially on economic topics, as they go into their first full day of discussions today.

While a joint economic statement existed in draft, the question of employment divided countries like the US and Britain with more free-market labour policies, and lower unemployment, from those like France and Italy where labour is more protected, and unemployment is higher.

Leading article, page 13

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis