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Climate change, African development top G8 summit agenda
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Climate change and African development are the two key topics at the Group of Eight (G8) summit scheduled for July 7-9 at the Lake Toya (Toyako) resort area in Hokkaido, northern Japan, said Tomohiko Taniguchi, deputy press secretary of the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

"The issue of climate change is high on the agenda of the G8 summit because global warming is a grave problem that confronts the whole human race," Taniguchi said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The United Nations intends that an agreement on a framework for global greenhouse emissions reduction as of 2013 should be reached by the end of 2009 when the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference is to be held, said Taniguchi, adding that as time is running out, the issue must be addressed at the summit.

On the issue of African development, he said the underdeveloped continent may breed a host of problems, such as poverty, crimes and terrorism, which pose threats to the whole world. And the eight industrialized nations cannot turn a deaf ear to it.

"In response to the two major topics, the G8 summit is to invite two groups of non-G8 nations to the conference," said Taniguchi.

Leaders of seven African nations of Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, along with those of the African Union, will discuss the issue of African development with the G8 leaders on July 7, he said.

Heads of state from China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico as well as Australia, Indonesia and South Korea are to attend the outreach sessions on July 9, he said, adding that the former five countries are members of the 8+5 Dialogue while the latter three countries will attend the "major economy conference," discussing the issue of climate change.

"It is unprecedented that so many countries has been invited to the summit," Taniguchi said.

As the host nation, Japan hopes that principled consensus could be reached on the two major topics in order to formulate the guideline for the resolution of the issues, Taniguchi said.

"We hope that all participating nations at the meeting make commitments with a common sense of crisis and responsibilities in the face of the climate issue, and reconfirm their willingness to assist African development," he added.

However, Taniguchi admitted that climate change may be the most thorny issue at the meeting, as countermeasures against global warming involve the most extensive range of issues in human history, and all countries care about their own interests though recognizing the importance of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Japan will push for the establishment of a reduction framework involving all major emitters, but it's very difficult, Taniguchi said. "It's still unknown what guidelines could be set, but Japan expects a consensus to be reached within the G8 members."

Of the traditional G8 topics of world economy, rocketing food and oil prices will dominate discussions, Taniguchi said, adding that consistent actions by the eight wealthiest countries are sure to be conducive to the settlement of problems.

"Speculation may be one of the factors behind oil price turbulence," Taniguchi said. "Although there is no perceived conclusion to the issue, Japan hopes that related consultations will be conducted among leaders and what has been discussed is to be included in the chair's statement."

Concerning the G8's cooperation with developing countries, Taniguchi said although the G8 summit is "a compact and highly efficient mechanism of dialogue" among leaders of several developed countries, it can not settle all the problems on its own.

"So, it's imperative to adopt the pattern of G8 plus developing countries in order to create more opportunities for dialogue while maintaining the eight-country framework."

With regard to Chinese President Hu Jintao's scheduled attendance at the outreach session, Taniguchi said that, with rising economic and political clout, China is drawing more and more attention from around the world.

The dialogue at the G8 summit will provide "a good opportunity for China and the rest of the world to get to know each other better," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2008)

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