• Kyodo

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Tokyo breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday as the leaders of the Group of Eight nations urged North Korea to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang agents.

“We support the efforts made by the different parties to seek by peaceful means a comprehensive solution to the North Korean issue and to other matters, including unresolved humanitarian problems such as the abductions,” the G8 leaders said in a chairman’s statement wrapping up their annual meeting.

This is the first time for the G8 leaders to mention the abduction issue clearly in any of their statements.

The G8 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia — concluded their three-day gathering in this French spa resort with a one-hour morning session to adopt the statement.

The final session was held in the absence of U.S. President George W. Bush, who left France for the Middle East on Monday.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a working session that Japan is seeking a peaceful and comprehensive solution to the North Korean nuclear problem and the abduction issue.

He later told reporters that he raised the abduction issue at a dinner session.

Many leaders “responded that they cannot understand why (North Korea) did such a thing,” Koizumi said.

In one of 13 documents adopted Monday by the G8 leaders, the leaders strongly urged North Korea “to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear weapons programs.”

Other documents place emphasis on measures to help developing countries combat terrorism and international cooperation aimed at eradicating severe acute respiratory syndrome.

In an action plan on water issues, the G8 leaders pledged stepped-up efforts to help secure a safe supply of water for developing countries.

On Sunday, the first day of the summit, the leaders met with 12 leaders from developing nations, including Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Hu called for the establishment of a new economic order aimed at narrowing the disparities between the North and the South.

This year’s summit was aimed to some extent at repairing ties between the U.S. and some of its European allies. Relations were soured by discord over the Iraq war.

Next year’s summit will be held in the U.S.

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