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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

G-8 Summit Ends On a Hopeful Note

EVIAN, France -- The world's leading industrial powers voiced confidence Tuesday in an economic recovery, as the anticlimactic end of their annual summit was marred by a third night of violent anti-capitalist protests.

In a final statement, the Group of Eight nations focused on the need to press ahead with structural reforms and greater flexibility in the rich nations' economies despite resistance highlighted by public sector strikes in host France.

They sought to draw a line under the bitter trans-Atlantic differences over the Iraq conflict, which half the G-8 opposed, saying that all now agreed the time had come to reconstruct Iraq.

But French President Jacques Chirac could not resist restating his view that the war to oust Saddam Hussein was "illegitimate and illegal," adding the United States might wage war alone but it needed others' help to build peace.

"Major downside risks have receded and the conditions for a recovery are in place," the leaders of the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada said in a statement issued a day after U.S. President George W. Bush left the summit early for Middle East peace talks.

"We are confident in the growth potential of our economies."

Although their written statement did not mention currencies, Chirac said all eight leaders agreed that currency stability was a key factor for growth and were monitoring market movements closely after the dollar's recent sharp fall against the euro.

During the night, several thousand demonstrators blocked the main bridge over the Rhone river in the Swiss city of Geneva, 40 kilometers from the summit site, and clashed with police.

The G-8 talks were held behind a massive security cordon at the French spa town of Evian, on the other side of Lake Geneva.

Chirac apologized to the Swiss people for the violence in Geneva and Lausanne by "gangs of thugs and wreckers," who he said were not true critics of globalization but simply vandals.

The leaders pledged renewed vigor in the fight against terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, singling out the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran as areas of particular concern.

Bush won an endorsement of his priority for the fight against WMD, if not of his policy of pre-emptive strikes against such threats or his proposal to stop and seize shipments of suspected WMD or missile parts.

A dispute reminiscent of the clash over Iraq erupted over their reference to the availability of "other measures in accordance with international law" if treaties, inspections, export controls and diplomacy failed to head off the threat.

The United States and Britain saw this as a reference to the possible use of force. But Chirac said that interpretation was "extraordinarily far-fetched. ... There was never any question of using force against anyone in any area."

The summit began an uneasy process of healing wounds opened by the Iraq crisis, when France, Russia and Germany united to deny Bush a United Nations mandate for military action.