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World leaders arrrive in Japan amid protests

Latest update : 2008-07-06

Heads of state and government from G8 states and 15 other countries will start discussing soaring prices and the situation in Zimbabwe on Monday. Upon arrival in Japan, US President George W. Bush said that he believed in a "strong dollar" policy.

Leaders of the world's richest countries began arriving in northern Japan on Sunday for a summit aimed at tackling the problem of rapidly rising food and oil prices that could derail global economic growth.
   
Authorities sealed off Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Demonstrations relegated to the island's largest city of Sapporo, where four people were arrested Saturday.
   
US President George W. Bush flew into Sapporo airport, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Tokyo, on Sunday ahead of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and then a meeting of the club of the world's rich nations.

At a joint press conference with Fukuda, Bush said: "The US believes in a strong dollar policy and believes that the strength of our economy will be reflected in the dollar." However, he also said that the US economy was "not growing as robustly as we'd like".
   
Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations will Monday begin three days of annual talks in the mountain resort town of Toyako on northern Hokkaido island that will be dominated by the fragile world economy and global warming.
   
Security was formidable across the picturesque region, with around 21,000 police deployed to protect the leaders as they huddle in a luxury hilltop hotel in a bid to solve the world's most pressing problems.
   
"The participants this year will discuss global issues, including the immediate dangers posed by the soaring prices of crude oil and foodstuffs as well as climate change," Fukuda said in a statement.
   
"They will also discuss international assistance to African development and the dual threats to world peace posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism."
   
The leaders of the G8 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and the United States — will be joined by those of some 15 other countries, including China, India, Brazil, Australia and eight African states, for expanded sessions on global warming and poverty alleviation.
   
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G8 leaders would agree on steps to fight the soaring price of food and to guarantee supplies.
   
"A vast catalogue of measures to guarantee food supplies worldwide" is expected to be adopted, Merkel told the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper.
   
The steps are meant to provide short-term relief to the crisis and a long-term strategy to increase the world agricultural production.
   
G8 finance ministers warned last month that record oil and food prices pose "a serious challenge to stable growth worldwide" and may worsen poverty and stoke inflation.
   
Japanese press reports have said the G8 would likely agree to set up a task force on the food crisis.
   
Climate change will top the agenda Wednesday when an expanded group of nations meets.
   
The leaders are expected to pledge to take the lead in efforts to halve emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 after agreeing a year ago to "consider seriously" the goal of at least halving worldwide emissions by 2050.
   
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said negotiations were in the final stages for a leaders' declaration, saying "the G8 will take the lead in making efforts to halve" emissions or something similar.
   
But faced with huge resistance no significant progress is expected, officials have predicted.
   
Fukuda has given up hope of setting targets for cuts in carbon emissions for the period immediately after the Kyoto Protocol's obligations run out in 2012.
   
Bush, who is attending his last G8, argues that the summit is not the right forum to make hard decisions on climate change as it does not include rapidly growing emerging economies.
   
The G8 leaders' final statement is also expected to "strongly condemn" Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe following his re-election in a June 27 election that has been widely denounced as a sham, the White House said.
   
While Hokkaido will mark Bush's G8 swansong, it will be the first for Fukuda, Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedev, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak.
   
Major leaders from the developing world, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Thabo Mbeki, will also attend G8 events.

Date created : 2008-07-06

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