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Italy/G8 summit

Obama arrives at summit, Hu goes home

Article published on the 2009-07-08 Latest update 2009-07-08 10:59 TU

Activists from Oxfam wearing masks of US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Rome on 8 July 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Activists from Oxfam wearing masks of US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Rome on 8 July 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

US President Barack Obama has arrived in Italy for the G8 summit of wealthy nations in L’Aquila in central Italy. But Chinese President Hu Jintao was forced to cancel his plans to attend the summit due to the unrest in Xinjiang province.

US President Barack Obama touched down at an Italian air force base near Rome on Wednesday for the three-day G8 summit, which involves the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US.

The agenda of the summit will focus on the world economic crisis, food security, climate change, health and Iran.

This afternoon leaders will discuss climate change and energy. Ahead of the meeting protesters scaled the chimneys of four Italian coal fired power stations. More than 100 activists occupied power stations to demand tougher action against climate change, according to Greenpeace.

Yesterday, the environment organisation staged a stunt in Paris, attracting the media and members of the public with a large inflatable iceberg in the river Seine. But the AFP news agency quoted an anonymous EU official as saying on Wednesday that rich countries have already dropped a pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Ahead of the summit the Pope and wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for leaders to ensure that Africa is not forgotten when the G8 makes decisions to protect their economies against the financial crisis.

Pope Benedict met with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is a Roman Catholic, on Tuesday to discuss the economic crisis and the impact on Africa.

The Vatican press said, “the good relations between Japan and the Holy See were noted.”

Elsewhere, in Britain's Guardian newspaper, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said leaders must build on the achievements of the 2001 G8 meeting in Genoa when a fund was established to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva has said that the G8 is no longer representative and should include emerging economies.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi decided to stage the summit in L’Aquila to show solidarity with the locals following the earthquake in April which killed nearly 300 people.

Pascal Lamy, chief of the World Trade Organisation has said the worst social and political effects of the economic crisis are yet to come.

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