Former state leaders kick off nuclear disarmament summit in Hiroshima

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Former government leaders from around the world have opened a plenary meeting of the InterAction Council to debate how nuclear weapons can best be eliminated.

Sam Nunn, former chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a guest speech at the Hiroshima venue that the upcoming conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty must not repeat the failure of the previous meeting in 2005, when it ended without consensus.

Among participants in the InterAction Council are 14 former heads of state, including former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson who serves as cochair with former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, as well as former Japanese prime ministers Yasuo Fukuda and Tomiichi Murayama.

They will issue a Hiroshima Declaration at the end of the 28th annual meeting, known also as the Old Boys Summit, following closed-door sessions Monday and Tuesday.

Among the former leaders on the original list of participants at the meeting, former Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami was banned from leaving the country last week.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and three others could not come because of air traffic disruptions across Europe caused by the massive cloud of ash from an Iceland volcano.

Prior to the ceremony, the participants visited Hiroshima Peace Park and listened to the experiences of atomic bomb survivors.

Chretien said he felt anew that further efforts will be needed toward eliminating nuclear weapons.