G7 talks “constructive”, but divergence on Iran, Israeli-Palestinian dispute remains: French FM

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries agreed on many issues , but the difference on issues related to the conflict in the Middle East and ties with Iran remains, French top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday.

“There is a very long, positive and comprehensive press release. Nevertheless, it shows some differences of opinion…,” Le Drian told reporters at the end of a two-day meeting in Dinard in western France.

“We wanted to be completely transparent and say that on two topics in particular — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the way to follow regarding relations with Iran — we have divergences that are known…,” he said after receiving his counterparts from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and Canada in Dinard, western France.

“Despite the crisp air of Dinard, we couldn’t overcome some of our differences. I think the talks were constructive and pleasant both in tone and in the fundamentals,” he stressed.

The French minister said the divergence did not prevent the participants from agreeing on issues including international security challenge, cyber interference in democracies and poverty in Africa, unlike the last G7 summit held in Canada in June 2018, which was marked by tense talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and his counterparts from the club over trade and climate change.

In a final joint statement, G7 foreign ministers, admitted “clear differences” over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they said “we remain united in our belief that this conflict has gone on for too long.”

They asked all regional stakeholders to play a pivotal role in reviving peace process and actively supporting the parties in maintaining the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

“We support the resumption of substantive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a negotiated solution that ensures the peace and security of both parties,” they added.

Committed to working together and promote international peace and security, they called for “coordinated approaches to prevent the use and spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, and reaffirm the importance of non-proliferation norms.”

“We are deeply concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile activities, which are inconsistent with UN Security Council resolutions and which contribute to increased tensions and instability in the region,” they said, asking Tehran “to immediately cease activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Speaking about unexpected military escalation in Libya, the top diplomats of G7 “reaffirm that there is no military solution to the conflict…” in the North Africa’s main oil exporter, reiterating “the need for the international community, regional partners, and multilateral organizations to continue supporting the UN’s efforts toward an inclusive Libyan-owned solution,” to end the political vacuum and restore stability.

The ministers also showed convergence on the necessity to join efforts to combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

“We recognize that forced displacement and migration are a challenge to be addressed through national action and appropriate international cooperation, including with countries of origin, transit and destination,” they noted.

They also stressed the need to work together to protect human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, including those in the most vulnerable situations, in accordance with international obligations.”

Recognizing the link between peace and security, economic growth and development, and the respect of human rights and good governance in Africa, foreign ministers of the seven rich countries called for commitment to invest in bilateral and multilateral partnerships with African countries to support peace and sustainable economic development across the continent.

France will host this year’s G7 Leaders’ Summit in the southwestern town of Biarritz on Aug. 24-26.