Leaders of the Group of Eight (G-8) countries opened their annual summit Wednesday at Kananaskis, a remote resort in Canada's Rocky Mountains amid unprecedented tight security.
After the opening ceremony, leaders from Canada, France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Italy and Japan met to discuss global economic issue as usual in previous summits.
Before the seven leaders meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Calgary, one of the largest cities in northwest Canada. He was welcomed by Canadian officials at the airport, but he refused to put a cowboy hat, a gift from Canadian host, on his head. Unlike other leaders, Putin was transported by a motorcade instead of a military helicopter, to Kananaskis, a village located 90 kilometers west of Calgary.
The G-8 leaders are expected to focus their discussion on strengthening global economic growth, building a new partnership for Africa's development and fighting terrorism, according to the agenda. Putin, whose country became a full member of the group in 1997, did not take part in this year's economic session.
Though Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has set the global economic growth, anti-terrorism and Africa's development as three priorities of the summit, leaders differ on which one they should focus on.
On the eve of his departure for the summit, U.S. President George W. Bush proposed a controversial Middle East peace plan and hope to shift the attention of other participants to counter-terrorism and his plan. Bush has said that his principal goal at Kananaskis will be "making sure this coalition of freedom-loving countries is strong."
However, his G-8 colleagues might be anxious to offer their thoughts on the damage that U.S. actions on steel, agriculture and softwood lumber are exerting on the coalition, not to mention its refusal to join the Kyoto treaty on global warming.
At the same time, they are also concerned about Bush's emerging new doctrine of preemptive strikes against terrorists and countries that develop weapons of mass destruction.
Bush, in commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy on June 1, said the U.S. will strike preemptively against suspected terrorists and the states that support them. The remarks have aroused new concern about what many allies see as a troubling U.S. tendency toward unilateralism.
Observers said Bush's priorities in fighting terrorism, coping with the Middle East crisis and laying out Washington's plan to expand its war to Iraq may overshadow other G-8 agenda items.
(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2002)