Canada to boycott U.N. arms talks headed by North Korea

Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:36pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will boycott the U.N. Conference on Disarmament for the several weeks that North Korea is chairing it, Foreign Minister John Baird announced on Monday.

"It's just absurd to have them in the chair," Baird told a conference call. "The regime is a major proliferator of nuclear weapons and its noncompliance with its disarmament obligations goes against the fundamental principles of this committee."

The presidency of the Geneva-based conference rotates alphabetically through its 65 members, but Baird said Canada would seek to change this rule. He said Iran was another country that should not head the disarmament conference.

Canada's ambassador to the conference, Marius Grinius, told the group last month that the conference had not been negotiating anything for a long time, and Baird acknowledged that the Canadian move was symbolic. He said Canada would resume its presence after North Korea's term ends on August 19.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Foreign Minister John Baird attends a news conference in Benghazi June 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany</p>