G-8 leaders condemn North Korea's missile tests and threats in 'strongest possible terms'

LONDON - Foreign ministers from G-8 nations are condemning in the "strongest possible terms" North Korea's aggressive rhetoric and development of nuclear missile programs.

North Korea on Thursday claimed it had "powerful striking means" on standby for a missile launch.

In a communique approved following a meeting in London, the G-8 foreign ministers said that recent missile tests "seriously undermine" regional stability and threaten international security.

The ministers also said Pyongyang's aggressive rhetoric will only isolate North Korea, and urged the government to engage in "credible" talks on abandoning all existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

They urged North Korea to refrain from "further provocative acts" and expressed concern about its plans to re-open its Yongbyon nuclear facility.

"This war rhetoric is not in any way acceptable and the G-8 has a united position on this, "Germany's foreign minister said Thursday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G-8 foreign ministers' meeting in London, Guido Westerwelle said all of the group's ministers shared his conviction.

The two-day talks among eight world powers are expected to focus on North Korea and the civil war in Syria.

They also got some celebrity wattage from an appearance by Angelina Jolie, a U.N. special envoy for refugees who has teamed up with U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague in efforts to prevent sexual violence in war.

Hague -- flanked by Jolie and the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zanab Bangora -- announced that G-8 ministers have pledged $36 million in additional funding to fight sexual violence in conflict.

Calling the issue "the slave trade of our generation," Hague said the ministers also agreed to make a declaration that rape and serious sexual violence in conflict constitute war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Jolie welcomed the "long overdue stand" on sexual violence, adding that international political will to combat sexual violence has been "sorely lacking."

Sexual violence has been used as a weapon in several recent conflicts, including Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the civil war in Syria.

On Syria, where the U.N. estimates that a two-year civil war has killed more than 70,000 people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Syrian opposition leaders in London on Wednesday to discuss ways to step up nonlethal aid to the rebels.

Britain and France have been pushing for the European Union to lift or amend its arms embargo on Syria so weapons can be sent to rebel fighters.

Hague -- who welcomed the G-8 foreign ministers to London -- said earlier this week that no decisions have been made on whether the U.K. will allow the embargo to expire as scheduled June 1, effectively clearing the way to arm the rebels. He said if the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, there will be a "strong case" for amending or lifting the embargo.

Westerwelle on Thursday reiterated Germany's opposition to arming the rebels.

"My concern is that weapons that are delivered to Syria will then get into the hands of jihadists and terrorists," he said, adding that the arms could then be used against other countries such as Israel.