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Iran at Center of Discussion for G8 Foreign Ministers


The foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized nations are gathering in Trieste in northern Italy for a meeting likely to be overshadowed by issues regarding Iran. Although originally invited, no Iranian delegate will be attending the summit.

Foreign Ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized nations are in Trieste for a summit that was to focus on discussing shared goals for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and peace in the Middle East.

But events in Iran are likely to overshadow their talks and foreign ministers appear likely to seek consensus on a joint condemnation of Iran's crackdown on protesters following the recent presidential elections.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who is hosting the meeting, says he hopes a tough and clear position against Iran's violent crackdown would be adopted by the G8 meeting.

Iran, like other neighbors of Afghanistan and Pakistan, was invited to attend the summit. But tensions between the West and Tehran have risen since Iran's disputed June 12 election. And, the Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki said on Wednesday he had no plans to attend the meeting.

Iran has accused Western powers of supporting street protests against the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Protests continue in Tehran and in many Western countries. A group of demonstrators also gathered in the city center of Trieste.

This young student from Iran, who was too scared to give her name, explained why she was protesting and carrying a placard that read "Bye Bye Dictator, Free Iran".

She said there are too many people in Iran that have been killed in the streets for no reason and G8 leaders should tell the Iranian government to put an end to this.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is absent after injuring her arm. U.S. special representative Richard Holbrooke will take part in the meeting on Afghanistan-Pakistan.

On the sidelines of the summit will be a meeting of the Mideast Quartet - the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations - to try to help move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The new U.S. Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, is attending the quartet talks.

Senator Mitchell held a bilateral meeting with the Italian foreign minister and spoke of the focus of their discussions.

"Our effort to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel-Syria, Israel-Lebanon and the full normalization of relations between Israel and its neighbors in the region," said George Mitchell.

North Korea is also expected to figure on the agenda, after it conducted a nuclear test last month and has said it would weaponize all its uranium in response to new U.N. sanctions.

About 44 delegations will participate in the meeting with the eight industrial powers, including representatives from the Islamic Development Bank, the International Organization for Migration and the World Food Program.

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