Heiligendamm (Germany): A war of words between US and Russia threatens to overshadow the Group of Eight summit which starts on 7 June, 2007, with climate change officially topping the agenda.
Massive security operation swung into action, with 16,000 police deployed to guard leaders of the world’s most industrialized nations in a resort on the Baltic Sea. Leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US will meet in a luxury beachfront hotel sealed off by a 12-kilometre-long (seven-mile) fence topped with barbed wire.
Protests against the summit by anarchists and anti-globalization groups have degenerated into violence since Saturday, leaving hundreds of police and demonstrators injured.
US President George W Bush, his wife Laura, and their entourage arrived on Tuesday to jeers from anti-war and anti-capitalism protestors. On the eve of the gathering, Bush steered towards a confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he took Moscow to task for “derailing” reforms.
The Kremlin rejected Bush’s accusations, saying Russia was “a democratic country that shares common world and common European values”.It was the latest flare-up in a row between Moscow and Washington over US plans to base a missile defence systemin central Europe.
Moscow describes the shield as an aggressive step which would threaten its security, but Washington argues it is designed to guard against attacks from states such as Iran and North Korea.
Merkel will be keen to keep any rows in check, allowing the leaders to focus on her aim of persuading the G8 to reach agreement on mandatory limits on the emission of greenhouse gases.
The chancellor staked Germany’s G8 presidency on climate change issue, but faces huge challenge to bring together the widely differing views of US and Europe.
She will attempt to persuade her counterparts to agree to limit the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2050.
The German plan for a binding pact has won qualified support from some G8 nations, but Bush last week unveiled his own proposals and said a long-term goal for reducing greenhouses gases could be set by the end of 2008.
Merkel wants the G8 to show other nations the way towards negotiations due to take place on the Indonesian island of Bali in December to find a successor to the UN-backed Kyoto Protocol on capping emissions that expires in 2012.
“We have to take action under a UN framework so that all members of the international community can participate in a binding manner,” she said after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Berlin early this week.
Merkel will hold a pre-summit meeting with Bush in a bid to find common ground on climate change. Bush will also meet Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before the summit starts with a formal dinner, the White House said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and counterparts from five emerging economies -- Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- have been invited to participate in the summit.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he will use his final G8 summit in office to urge his fellow leaders to make good on pledges to help Africa and the world’s poor that were agreed at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.
Newly elected French President Nicolasmaks his debut at the summit. Meanwhile, militants have vowed to block the roads from Rostock airport to Heiligendamm to prevent diplomats and translators from reaching the summit.