MUCH as they tried to focus on jobs at their Tokyo summit, the world's leading industrialized nations were pressed to deal with the new security dangers of the post-cold-war world.
The Group of Seven (G-7) nations discussed terrorism, ethnic wars, and nuclear threats, but found no easy consensus or solutions at hand.
In their political declaration yesterday, G-7 leaders stated that "instabilities and conflicts, many with their roots in the past, still arise." The G-7's first priority is to strengthen the United Nations to better deal with regional conflicts, the statement said.
The three-day summit ends today with another declaration meant to boost world economic growth and job creation, a commitment to conclude the Uruguay Round of trade talks, and an offer of a new aid package to Russia.
The fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina revealed the dilemma that the world's most powerful nations face in finding some sort of new international order. The leaders of Japan, Canada, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, and the United States failed to agree on specific new initiatives to end the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
"As far as the country-specific and regional issues, Bosnia is obviously the first and foremost of those issues," a US official said.
European leaders could not agree with President Clinton's interest in using airstrikes in the conflict. As a compromise, the leaders warned that "stronger measures are not excluded" if Serb and Croatian forces try to dismember Bosnia through ethnic cleansing or by force. US officials, trying to read the best into the statement, said the Europeans have not ruled out more force.
"If there was any consensus, [it] would have been that this is a very hard nut to crack," said Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Masamichi Hanabusa.
Nonetheless, G-7 leaders spoke strongly on the Bosnia conflict, seeing it as a test case for the world to resolve local conflicts. "It increases the pressure on the Serbs and the Croatians to have a clear statement from the international community that unless there is a negotiated settlement, they will be essentially treated as pariah nonnations by the international community," the US official said. The G-7 also raised the prospect of international sanctions against Croatia for the first time.
A big victory for the US at the summit was the mention of Iraq, Iran, and Libya in the political declaration. While not cited directly as terrorist states, the document urges the three countries to follow international standards and relevant UN resolutions.
"We know that a number of the [G-7] countries here have very full economic relations with Iran," the US official said. "And I think our concern here is that we do not look back in five years and say that the international community and the industrial world has made the same mistake on Iran as it made on Iraq." The US hopes the G-7 statement will push Iran to end its weapons development. "This will be noticed in Tehran," the US official said, "because it's not an American statement."
North Korea, too, was urged to allow inspections of its nuclear sites and to return fully to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Such a statement might help the US in its second round of talks with North Korea next week.
The G-7 failed to make a strong statement on renewing the NPT in 1995, when it runs out. Japan has been hesitant to sign onto a new treaty in case North Korea obtains nuclear weapons, forcing Tokyo to do the same.
While all these issues were difficult for the G-7, the group did note progress in Cambodia, the Middle East peace talks, Haiti, and South Africa. And it stated that "the process of democratization and economic reform has further advanced."
In the closing hours of the summit, the US was trying to obtain commitments from other nations for a $500 million fund to help privatize Russian enterprises as part of a $3 billion Russian aid package G-7 ministers put together last April. The G-7 gave $28.4 billion in aid to shore up President Boris Yeltsin's power base in Moscow.
President Clinton, in persistent talks with fellow summitteers, reiterated his administration's belief that aid to Russia is the "single most-important foreign policy initiative" undertaken by the G-7.
President Yeltsin met with other leaders, as at recent G-7 summits, and also held a historic meeting with the Japanese. The two nations have had a bitter time trying to arrange a bilateral meeting because of a territorial dispute. Yeltsin's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa yesterday might lead to a larger bilateral summit this fall.
Unlike the two previous G-7 summit declarations, this year's document did not mention the Japan-Russia island dispute. Instead, the G-7 stated that it looks to Russia "to promote its diplomacy based on the principle of law and justice...." Japan uses such wording to back up its alleged legal claim to four northern islands held by Russia.