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G7 Ukraine summit won't affect nuclear talks: Dutch PM

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte addresses the media, ahead of the March 24 and 25 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Freek van den Bergh, POOL)

THE HAGUE: Urgent talks by G7 countries on the crisis in the Ukraine will not interfere with a global summit on ridding the world of nuclear terrorism, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, Rutte said a meeting between leaders of the Group of Seven countries which could see Russia permanently excluded from the G8 would not detract from the aims of the summit.

"It won't interfere with the schedule of the Nuclear Security Summit," Rutte said when asked about the G7 talks, expected to be held nearby, shortly after Monday's opening NSS session at a heavily-guarded conference centre.

Leaders of 53 countries gather in The Hague on Monday and Tuesday for the third bi-annual NSS, brainchild of US President Barack Obama and aimed at preventing a terrorist nuclear attack and reducing the world's non-military nuclear materials.

But the summit risks being overshadowed by the escalating Ukraine crisis, with Obama himself last week calling for the G7 meet amid an escalating showdown with Russia.

G7 leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US will meet on Monday afternoon, leaving Tuesday free to discuss securing the world's stocks of nuclear material to prevent a group like Al-Qaeda acquiring a nuclear or so-called 'dirty' bomb of conventional explosives wrapped in radioactive material.

"These kind of conferences are often a good opportunity to discuss other issues. Ukraine is one of those issues," Rutte said.

He said leaders were expected to hammer out a so-called "nuclear security architecture" plan to ensure that nuclear material "did not fall into the wrong hands."

The Netherlands, South Korea and the United States want to draw together best practice guidelines approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency for nuclear safety and security in a package that countries attending the summit can sign up to, although this is not expected to be included in the final statement.

New topics of discussion following the last NSS in Seoul in 2012 include the forensics of tracing non-military nuclear material and the private sector's role in securing nuclear material.

"We need to do everything we can to prevent nuclear terrorism and we have come here with a strong will to do so," Rutte said.

Nuclear security is central to Obama's political legacy and in 2009 he called it "one of the greatest threats to international security."

The final NSS is planned in Washington in 2016.

 

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Summary

Urgent talks by G7 countries on the crisis in the Ukraine will not interfere with a global summit on ridding the world of nuclear terrorism, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, Rutte said a meeting between leaders of the Group of Seven countries which could see Russia permanently excluded from the G8 would not detract from the aims of the summit.

The summit risks being overshadowed by the escalating Ukraine crisis, with Obama himself last week calling for the G7 meet amid an escalating showdown with Russia.


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