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World leaders unite in slamming North Korea, Iran


Bilderberg minutes passed on in Toronto...

By TOM RAUM and JANE WARDELL, Associated Press Writers Tom Raum And Jane Wardell, Associated Press Writers – 1 hr 8 mins ago

TORONTO, Ontario – Briefly putting aside deep economic differences, top world leaders on Saturday condemned North Korea for the alleged sinking of a South Korean warship, set a five-year exit timeline for Afghanistan and said the standoff in Gaza was "not sustainable and must be changed."

In a joint statement, the leading eight industrial democracies also criticized both Iran and North Korea for continuing their nuclear march and called on both to heed existing United Nations resolutions.

The statement was not as strongly worded as some nations had hoped, including the United States, particularly in condemning North Korea in the March sinking of the warship. Russia was cited as a holdout against stronger language.

Street protests involving thousands of demonstrators that had been mild earlier turned violent as black-clad demonstrators set fires, including torching a police cruiser in the financial district of Canada's most populous city and smashed windows in a shopping district after veering off from the planned protest route.

At the summit meeting, the G-8 leaders — representing the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia — focused Saturday on foreign policy, where it appeared easier to find common ground. This came after they differed on how best to deal with a struggling world economy.

The leaders are divided on how best to keep the world economy growing after the worst recession since the 1930s. They are generally split between calls, mainly from the U.S., for more government stimulus to keep countries from slipping back into recession, and appeals from European countries and Japan for spending cuts and even tax hikes to avoid Greece-like near defaults.

For now, the leaders have generally cooled their rhetoric and agreed that deficits must be tamed in the long term, but different countries may use different tactics in the short term, depending on their levels of indebtedness.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters that President Barack Obama "clearly talked about the risks of debt and deficit" in the U.S.

Still, said Sarkozy, "No leader contested the need to cut deficits and debt and to do it in a pragmatic way, taking into account the situation of each country."

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said world leaders must work together to make sure the global recovery stays on track. Although the world economy has recovered somewhat, many challenges remain, Geithner told reporters.

"The scars of this crisis are still with us," he said. "If the world economy is to expand at its potential, if growth is going to be sustainable in the future, then we need to act together to strengthen the recovery and finish the job of repairing the damage of the crisis."

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official said Obama has decided to resume talks aimed at resolving issues blocking the completion of a free trade agreement with South Korea stalled since 2007 during the administration of President George W. Bush.

The official said Obama plans to announce the new effort after meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The official says the goal would be to clear up remaining differences with Seoul by the time Obama visits South Korea in November.

The joint statement from the Group of eight nations, mainly representing older, rich democracies, concluded the group's two-day meeting at a lakeside resort about 140 miles north of Toronto.

Leaders then immediately returned to Toronto to continue their talks in a broader meeting of the Group of 20, which includes countries with fast-growing economies such as China, India and Brazil.

Obama gave British Prime Minister David Cameron a lift in his helicopter, called Marine One.

In Toronto, Canada's largest and most cosmopolitan city, police hoped a steady rain Saturday would put a damper on anti-globalization protests, but were bracing for possible violence by splinter groups.

Previous summit gatherings have attracted massive protests by anti-globalization forces. But so far the Canadian protests have been smaller. The largest demonstration, a march in downtown Toronto sponsored by labor unions and dubbed family friendly, was scheduled for Saturday.

The back-to-back summits came amid what Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the host, called an "enormous crisis facing us all, serious threats to the stability, economic prosperity of every country."

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