G8 Italy Summit: Friday (VIDEO)(SLIDESHOW)
Italy versus the Guardian (9:31 A.M.)
Meanwhile, there is an ongoing spat between Italy and the Guardian newspaper, following a report that entertained the possibility that Italy could be expelled from the G8, due to its "chaotic" organization of the summit and the fact that it has a lower per capita income than Spain--who would fill the eighth spot in the forum. According to the Italian news site ANSA, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini lashed out Tuesday, calling the report "nonsense", "a joke", and hoping that, "The Guardian leaves the (ranks of) the world's great newspapers."
Jintao departs (9:14 A.M.)
According to the Washington Post Wednesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao was forced to forgo the summit altogether, due to increased strife in the Western Xinjiang region, which saw violent clashes between Uighur protesters, police, and ethnic Han Chinese civilians. The Associated Press notes that Jintao's absence "could weaken trust-building discussions on making further progress on climate change."
Jintao's departure will also cancel a one-on-one schedule with Obama, where the two leaders were meant to discuss joint emissions reduction efforts, the New York Times reports.
The Associated Press reports on the Obamas arrival:
Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, went immediately into a meeting Wednesday morning with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano after arriving at the stately Quirinale Palace, meeting his host in a spectacular setting that included a large room with a soaring ceiling, gilded walls and doors and huge chandaliers.
Emerging from the meeting with Napolitano, Obama said he was looking forward to the G-8 talks and praised his Italian hosts for being "such good friends" of the United States over the years.
He said the two countries among other things "are working hand in hand in places like Afghanistan to ensure that we're isolating extremists and strengthening the forces of moderation around the world." Obama also said he and Napolitano agreed that efforts must continue in the area of "raising standards on financial institutions" to protect against future global economic meltdowns.
He also said that its crucial that world leaders work to ensure that Iran and North Korea don't "take a path" that would widen the arms race on the Korean peninsula and in the Mideast.
President Obama arrived in Italy Wednesday for the Group of 8 Summit in L'Aquila--the site of a devastating earthquake in April of this year--to discuss climate change, global security, the global recession and various other international issues. The Group of 8 (G8) industrialized nations--organized by France in 1975--consists of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia; however, G8 leaders are joined in L'Aquila by the leaders from a Group of 5 developing nations of global import that include Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Mexico, plus Egypt.
According to the official website, the G8 and this smaller G5 will discuss the salient issues in individual summits Wednesday, but will merge together Thursday, along with Major Economies Forum, with aims to reach an accord on ten separate draft declarations, which have been at least partially hashed out by negotiators in the days and weeks leading up to the summit. And on the third and final day, this merger will be accompanied by representatives from African nations and international organizations to discuss Middle East issues and, notably, the renewal of international development aid to Africa.
Climate change and the global economic crisis, in particular, are topping the summit's agenda. However, according to Times Online, the preliminary negotiations for halving carbon emissions by 2050 have already "failed", due to balking on the part of China and India.
In talks that continued late last night the [Chinese and Indian] delegations are understood to have prevented any mention of the target in the draft communiqué, insisting that the developed economies should promise to cut their own emissions sharply by 2020 before asking developing nations to commit to a long term target.
The scheduled events for Day 1 are set to begin at 1:00 p.m. Italian time (7:00 a.m. EST) with a G8 leader working luncheon and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi introduction. The "family photo" of world leaders will be taken after this first session, according to the official schedule.
Throughout Wednesday, Berlusconi will personally conduct tours of the earthquake ravaged region for each G8 leader. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already had hers, with a visit to the especially devastated village of Onna. Germany has pledged additional contributions to the rebuilding effort. Obama is scheduled to have his tour at 11:45 EST, followed by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
My colleague Morgan Korn provides a more detailed schedule and background overview of the summit here.