G7 ministers meet on Russia, Iran, North Korea threats

Diplomats from the world's seven leading democracies met Sunday in Toronto to discuss ways to counter Russian Federation in Syria and Ukraine, and Iran in the Middle East.

During a meeting in Toronto, the foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations promised to extend sanctions against Russian Federation.

In Syria, Russia is backing President Bashar al-Assad.

It is the first high-level meeting of the allies since the United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles targeting chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack on April 7.

France's President Emmanuel Macron, who begins a series of meetings with Trump on Monday, said in an interview that the West must stand up to Putin's attacks on western democracy, including the spreading of "fake news".

"There was G7 unity on opposing Russia's malign behaviour", a senior U.S. official told reporters, citing Moscow's failure to prevent Syrian forces from using chemical weapons and interference in Western elections. "They will fuel the new terrorists".

The envoys will also be keen to glean clues from their U.S. colleague about whether President Donald Trump plans to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and how he will handle a planned summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the top USA diplomat, has not yet been confirmed in his post so the United States will be represented in Toronto by acting Secretary of State John Sullivan.

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The foreign ministers also discussed negotiations under way between the US, Britain, France and Germany on making changes to a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six leading powers, the State Department official said.

Before Sullivan and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held a closed-door meeting, Johnson was overheard saying, "One of the things we are concerned about now is the JCPOA and where that is headed".

The US said its priorities also included Iran's "malign" regional activities and ending North Korea's nuclear programme.

Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014.

Russia's activities in Ukraine and elsewhere since then have served as a reminder of the G-7's original objective.

Trump has nominated Pompeo to be USA secretary of state but Pompeo isn't in Toronto as his confirmation faces opposition in the Senate. Now, with the West and Russian Federation in their most confrontational period since the end of the Cold War, the G-7 has united to push back against its former member. And it issued a strong statement of support for the allied airstrikes in Syria just over a week ago.

The Toronto talks may be Sullivan's last high-level worldwide confab as acting secretary.

The foreign ministers' talks, due to end late on Monday, will help prepare for a G7 leaders' summit in Canada in early June. Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo has been nominated to replace him as Washington's top diplomat and may be confirmed this week.

  • Tabitha Byrd