Prime Minister Stephen Harper will attend the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, next week. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)


The Conservative government is considering imposing sanctions against Syria, an action already taken by other countries and one that will be a top agenda item at next week's G8 meeting.

The new minister of foreign affairs, John Baird, and his department are preparing various options for sanctions against Syria, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman said Friday.

"The minister of foreign affairs is currently working on those options," Dimitri Soudas said at a briefing on Harper's upcoming trip to Deauville, France for the G8 summit.

"We take the situation there very seriously. The actions of the [Syrian] government are simply unacceptable," he said.

The parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs promised the government is moving on the file.

"Sanctions are coming," Deepak Obhrai told Evan Solomon on CBC's Power & Politics.

The United States and European Union have already imposed sanctions.

Syria and Libya will be key topics for the world leaders who are gathering in Deauville on May 26 and 27.

The G8 is made up of the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Other national leaders and representatives from the European Union also often are invited to attend.

A number of historical international events have occurred since the G8 leaders last met in Canada last summer, including the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya, and the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck Japan.

G8 will hold special session on 'Arab Spring'

The prime ministers of Egypt and Tunisia will be at the meeting and participating in a special session devoted to the ongoing changes in that region of the world, which have been called the "Arab Spring."

France will lead an effort to support transitions to democracy in the tumultuous region by forming long-term partnerships with the countries and will aim "to support civil society and economic and social reforms, particularly aimed at young people, whose thirst for freedom sparked off the liberation movements of the Arab peoples," according to the Deauville summit website.

The G8 leaders will also express their "solidarity with the Japanese authorities and people," according to the background information on the summit website.

"The Summit will also give fresh impetus to tightening international nuclear safety requirements."

Harper's office said in a press release that the Deauville summit will cover a range of "pressing international issues."

"I look forward to working with other G8 members on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, global peace and security challenges, the G8 Partnership with Africa and G8 Accountability," Harper said.

The prime minister said he and his counterparts would also talk about the progress being made on the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

The multi-billion project was launched last summer when Canada hosted the G8 in Huntsville, Ont.

Following the G8 summit in France, Harper will travel to Greece on May 28 for two days of meetings.

He will meet with the debt-ridden country's prime minister, George Papandreou, and the two leaders will discuss "bilateral, regional and global issues, including two-way trade and investment, and international economic and security issues," according to Harper's office.

The prime minister will also meet with the business community and will visit historic sites.

Harper will return from his foreign trip with not much time to spare before regular business resumes on Parliament Hill.

The Conservative caucus is scheduled to meet on June 1 and the new session of Parliament begins the following day.

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