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North Korea, Syria dominate G8 ministers meeting in London

North Korea and Syria dominated talks among foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in London, including US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized nations condemned North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the “strongest possible terms” and vowed to take “further significant measures” if Pyongyang were to conduct another missile launch or nuclear test, following talks that were also focused on Syria.

The group also condemned North Korea’s “current aggressive rhetoric,” saying it would “only serve further to isolate the DPRK,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on behalf of the group following their meeting in London.

“Ministers supported the commitment to strengthen the current sanctions regime and take further significant measures in the event of a further launch or nuclear test by the DPRK,” Hague told reporters.

Syria was also high on the agenda during the two-day talks attended by representatives of the world’s wealthiest countries, including US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

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According to Voice of America, G8 foreign ministers met over dinner Wednesday, talking with Syrian opposition officials during separate side sessions. Hague called the talks with the Syrian opposition “very productive.”

He and Kerry are to attend a Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul later this month to further discuss the issue.

However, G8 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US — disagree over solutions. Britain and France have advocated amending or lifting an EU arms embargo on Syria to support the rebels. Russia and Germany, on the other hand, would oppose the move for fear it would allow weapons to fall into the hands of Islamist militants and fuel a regional conflict.

More from GlobalPost: Inside Syria (VIDEO)

Press TV cited Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as warning that neither side could win in Syria, and questioning the motives of countries interfering in the conflict.

“We have long been trying to calm the situation [in Syria]. But as soon as the slightest glimmer of hope appears… someone immediately does everything possible to frustrate the hope. There will be no winner. I do not know for whom it is advantageous. It may be advantageous for many. For example, for those who would like to see fewer big and influential countries in the region.”

Human Rights Watch released a report Wednesday that said the Syrian regime has killed at least 4,300 people since last summer in indiscriminate and sometimes deliberate air strikes, which the group said amount to war crimes.

In a press release, Ole Solvang, a researcher with the New York-based human rights group, said: “These illegal air strikes killed and injured many civilians and sowed a path of destruction, fear, and displacement.”

Syrian fighter jets have deliberately targeted bakeries, bread lines and hospitals in the country’s northern region, the report said, especially in the border with Turkey which had recently fallen under the control of rebels.

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The conflict in Syria is now in its third year, at an estimated human cost of at least 70,000 lives.