G8 meeting focuses on Iran: Cannon

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says Iran's nuclear enrichment program will be high on the agenda as G8 representatives gather in Gatineau, Que.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says Iran's nuclear enrichment program will be high on the agenda as G8 representatives gather Monday in Gatineau, Que.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her arrival at the Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Chelsea, Que., on Monday. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

 "Unfortunately, I believe we are left with little choice but to pursue additional sanctions against Iran ideally through the United Nations Security Council," Cannon told reporters.

"We need to let discussions play out in the UN, and Canada is ready to do its part."

Western nations have been pushing for a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran, which is pressing ahead with its nuclear development program.

Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are strictly for peaceful purposes, but the West fears the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Cannon said the agenda for the G8 summit will not be altered in the wake of the Moscow subway attacks, in which 38 people were killed Monday. But the issue is likely to factor into discussions.

"Our agenda will move forward as planned," Cannon said. "But at the same time there is an opportunity for colleagues at the table to raise other issues as well."

"The agenda can change. It is not set in stone, so if a nation wishes to use their speaking time to raise those issues, I wouldn't see any problems with that," he said.

Arctic issues also a topic

The G8 meeting of foreign ministers begins Monday evening and continues Tuesday.

The gathering comes ahead of June's planned G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., and G20 meeting in Toronto.

Cannon is playing host on Monday at a five-country meeting on economic development in the Arctic. The talks are expected to focus on oil, national security, shipping routes and environmental protection.

Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark have competing claims in the Arctic.

"I think we are discovering that the Arctic is climbing to the top attention of the international community, and for good reason, because of climate change, new sailing routes, available resources [and] geo-political changes," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere

Earlier this month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country must defend its claims to Arctic mineral deposits. Canada responded that it would reassert its sovereignty in the area.

Stoere said Monday he believes the meeting participants can avoid some of those tensions on the Far North claims.

"I think we can approach this in the way of talking about high North, low tension," he said.