Entries in G8 Summit (6)


Syria Crisis to Top G-8 Summit Agenda

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(COUNTY FERMANAGH, Northern Ireland) -- The civil war in Syria is expected to dominate much of the discussion as President Obama sits down Monday with the Group of Eight leaders in Northern Ireland, just days after the White House confirmed the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“They’ll clearly discuss the situation in Syria, to include the most recent chemical weapons assessment that we’ve provided, the efforts that are underway to support both the opposition but also a political settlement in the country,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters Friday.

The Obama administration has said it will provide more “direct support” to the Syrian opposition now that the president’s “red line” has been crossed. The U.S., he added, has “steadily increased both the size and scope of our assistance” to the Supreme Military Council, the armed wing of the Syrian opposition.

“At the same time, you know, this is a fluid situation. So it’s necessary for [the president] to consult with all the leaders at the G-8 about both our chemical weapons assessment and the types of support we’re providing to the opposition,” he added.

The president will also, however, have to sway Assad’s allies, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama and Putin will meet face-to-face at the G-8 summit for the first time in a year.

Russia has publicly questioned American evidence that Assad used chemical weapons and does not agree that Assad must step down from power for a political settlement to be successful.

“What Russia has articulated to us, and publicly, is that they don’t want to see a downward spiral,” Rhodes said. “They don’t want to see a chaotic and unstable situation in the region. They don’t want to see extremist elements gaining a foothold in Syria. And the point that we’ve made to Russia is that the current course in which Assad is not being appropriately pressured to step down from power by those who continue to support him in the international community is bringing about those very outcomes.”

“We still continue to discuss with the Russians whether there’s a way to bring together elements of the regime and the opposition to achieve a political settlement. We have no illusions that that’s going to be easy,” he added.

While the Syrian crisis will overshadow much of the summit agenda, there are many other topics up for discussion, including economic reform, trade and the fight against terrorism.

Obama is expected to defend his administration’s phone and internet surveillance programs as vital counterterrorism tools. “He’ll be able to discuss with the other leaders the importance of these programs in terms of our counterterrorism efforts in particular, the constraints and safeguards that we place on these programs so that they have oversight against potential abuses,” Rhodes said.

“And all of these countries at the G-8 are important counterterrorism partners. And together we’ve worked with them on an intelligence and security relationship to foil terrorist attacks in the United States and in Europe, and of course Russia shares a significant counterterrorism interest with us as well,” he said.

In addition to participating in a series of high-level meetings, the president will also deliver a major address in Northern Ireland at the Belfast Waterfront Convention Center. This will be the president’s first opportunity to address at length the support that the U.S. has provided to the peace process in Northern Ireland and to the development of its economy.

After two days of summit meetings, the president will travel to Berlin, where he will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, and deliver a major address at the historic Brandenburg Gate.

The short three-day trip to Europe will be also a family affair for the president. The first lady and daughters Sasha and Malia will be joining him.

Mrs. Obama and her daughters will attend the president’s speech in Belfast and then break off to travel to Dublin, while the president is busy with summit meetings. There, they will tour Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university and “explore the archives that they’ve gathered to document the Obamas’ Irish ancestry,” Rhodes explained.

The first family will reunite in Berlin.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Protests in Belfast Ahead of Obama's Trip to G8 Summit

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(BELFAST, Ireland) -- Belfast's City Hall was the site of a march on Saturday, ahead of next week's G-8 summit.

According to BBC News, the rally was organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The march took the group from the city's Custom House square to City Hall.

The protesters believe that capitalism and the policies of the G-8 leaders have led to global poverty, BBC News says.

A second protest, consisting of loyalists against a restriction on flying the union flag at City Hall took place at the same time.

The G-8 leaders, including President Obama, will meet in Belfast on Monday and Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Hosts G-8 Slumber Party at Camp David

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Leaders of eight of the world’s largest economies are meeting at Camp David Friday evening for the G-8 Summit, marking the biggest gathering of heads of state at the president’s country retreat in history.

The rustic estate in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, however, presents something of a logistical challenge for the White House as it seeks to accommodate all of the leaders and their staffs.

Before your mind wanders to those summer camp memories of bunk bed-filled cabins, the Obama administration assures there are “adequate facilities” for each delegation. But who sleeps where? And how were the arrangements decided?

“The allocation system, of course, is classified,” National Security Advisor Tom Donilon jokingly told reporters Thursday.

“The summit is intended to be small and intimate, and the President made a conscious decision to host the G8 meeting at Camp David for this reason.  Each head of state or government will have his or her own cabin and they’ll have the opportunity, obviously, to meet informally on the margins of the meetings and to take full advantage of the grounds at Camp David,” he said.

President Obama was originally slated to host the summit in his hometown of Chicago, but announced in March that he was moving the meetings to Camp David.

The country retreat, known formally as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, is a large complex, but not all of the buildings are the same size. Several of the scattered cabins are just one room and a bathroom.

Donilon assured reporters that the delicate arrangements were carefully planned. White House deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco and George Mulligan of the White House Military Office were enlisted to help with the details, he said.

“There are adequate facilities there for each delegation, each head of state to have his or her cabin, as I said, and for each to be accompanied by a key staff person and in some cases two or three staff people,” Donilon said.

“Maybe we could get … a deeper briefing on this stuff,” he added laughing. “I’m as interested in it as you are.”

The president himself does not visit his country home often. Friday will mark his 23rd visit to Camp David, according to unofficial White House historian CBS’ Mark Knoller.

Camp David, named after President Eisenhower’s grandson, has hosted foreign dignitaries in the past. The 1978 summit that President Jimmy Carter held for Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin resulted in what are now known as the Camp David Accords.

Asked if it was a little rustic for heads of state, Donilon quipped “I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island.  I never had a lawn bigger than three feet in front of my house, so … I’m not really the one to comment on rustic.”

While the G-8 leaders are busy tackling global issue like the European debt crisis at Camp David, First Lady Michelle Obama will host their spouses at the White House for a tour and “intimate lunch” catered by famed celebrity chef Jose Andres, according to the White House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Russia's Putin Tells Obama He'll Skip G8 Summit

ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Barack Obama on Wednesday that he will be skipping next week's high-stakes G8 economic summit and sending Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in his place, the White House announced.

In a telephone conversation with Obama, Putin cited "his responsibilities to finalize Cabinet appointments in the new Russian government" in declining the invitation to join leaders of the world's richest nations at Camp David May 18-19.

An official Kremlin account of the exchange made no mention of the G8 summit -- which is expected to focus on how to revive the sputtering global economy -- but said Obama had "congratulated Vladimir Putin on officially taking office as President."

Putin on Wednesday marked an annual celebration of the country's contributions to defeating Nazi Germany with a forceful defense of Russia's foreign policy in a speech to troops and veterans thronged in Moscow's Red Square.

"Russia consistently follows a policy of strengthening global security and we have a great moral right to stand up determinedly for our positions because our country suffered the blow of Nazism," he said.

The White House announcement came after a war of words between Washington and Moscow over a Russian security crackdown on demonstrations in the aftermath of Putin's election as president.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday that Washington was "troubled" by the arrests of protestors and "disturbed by images of police mistreatment of peaceful protestors both during the protests and after detentions."

And the White House has repeatedly condemned Russia for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution meant to pressure Syria to halt a deadly crackdown on opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

The White House statement on the conversation highlighted that Obama and Putin had underscored "their mutual commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Russian partnership."

"President Obama and President Putin noted with satisfaction the concrete achievements of the last three years and expressed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of mutual strategic interests" and agreed to meet on the sidelines of the June 18-19 G20 summit in Mexico, the White House said.

"The two Presidents reiterated their interest in the sustained high-level dialogue that has characterized the re-set of relations, and the substantial progress of the last three years on issues like nuclear security and non-proliferation, Afghanistan, the WTO, and increased trade and commercial ties," it said.

The Obama administration has signaled support for Russia's application to join the World Trade Organization. That would require Congress to undo a Cold War-era law, the Jackson-Vanik amendment -- a step that could face opposition from Moscow's critics in the House and Senate, though support from the American business community is expected to push that repeal to passage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


G8 Pledges Up to $20 Billion in Aid to 'Arab Spring' Democracies

White House Pool Photo/Mike Majchrowitz/Fox News(DEAUVILLE, France) -- The G8 nations announced Friday what it called "the Deauville Partnership" with the people of North Africa and the Middle East, "support(ing) the aspirations of the 'Arab Spring'" and pledging up to $20 billion in potential aid to "free, democratic and tolerant societies."

Bereft of much detail, the "Deauville Partnership" seemed very much a work in progress -- as is the so-called "Arab Spring" itself.

With the prime ministers of Egypt and Tunisia and the Secretary of the Arab League on hand, the G8 leaders issued a communique stating that the world leaders "welcome the work done by Egypt and Tunisia in presenting to the international community of donors their program of actions towards economic and financial stability and preparing for more inclusive growth, and stand ready to support them.  We welcome the Egyptian authorities' decision to request IMF [International Monetary Fund] and multilateral development banks' assistance and Tunisia's request for a joint and coordinated development policy loan."

"In this context, multilateral development banks could provide over $20 [billion], including €3.5 [billion] from the EIB [European Investment Bank], for Egypt and Tunisia for 2011-2013 in support of suitable reform efforts," the communique stated.

There weren't many specifics beyond those numbers and the previously announced $2 billion in U.S. aid for Egypt.

The G8 leaders called for "action plans" from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the EIB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Islamic Development Bank.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama, French President Agree 'Gadhafi Must Leave'

The White House/Pete Souza(DEAUVILLE, France) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama are on the same page when it comes to Libya and Moammar Gadhafi.

Speaking at a joint news conference from Deauville, France on Friday, Sarkozy said, "Mr. Gadhafi must leave."

Obama agreed with Sarkozy, saying, "Meeting the U.N. mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Gadhafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people."

"And we are joined in resolve to finish the job," Obama added.

Obama is in Deauville to attend the G8 summit, where he and other world leaders will discuss the post-tsunami situation in Japan and the global economy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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