G8 and G20 summit begins in Canada

Economics, security and Iran sanctions will be on the agenda.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 26, 2010 03:05
2 minute read.
Canadian mounty stands guard as leaders meet

Canadian mounty by G8 helicopter 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

HUNTSVILLE, Ontario  — World leaders were searching for common ground on economics, health, security and other issues Friday as three days of summits began in Canada.

Among the issues to be discussed will be fuirther sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program - building on expanded Security Council measures adopted this month.  The US and EU want tough sanctions but China and Russia only reluctantly support sanctions, and have balked at new unilateral steps against Iran, saying any measures should not exceed those called for by the Security Council.

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The G-8 comprises the US, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Russia.  The leaders are meeting near Toronto.

On Saturday and Sunday, they will be joined by 12 leaders representing the fast-growing developing economies including China, India and Brazil.

US President Barack Obama has called for more spending to keep world economies from slipping back into recession. He is being rebuffed by leaders in Europe and Japan, who have emphasized cutting government spending and raising taxes to try to keep their deficits in check.

Obama is also calling for an overhaul of financial regulations to prevent another global meltdown. The G-20 group represents 85 percent of the global economy and the United States wants this group to endorse the outlines for global financial reform to eliminate the threat that banks facing tougher regulations in one jurisdiction will move their operations to countries with more lax rules.

At a time when leaders were discussing fiscal austerity, Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, has come under criticism over the projected costs of the summits, including at least $900 million for security and $2 million for a theme park inside the media center that includes an artificial lake with canoes, trees, deck chairs and a fake dock.

Leaders also faced skepticism about how much summits actually accomplish. In an opinion piece published Friday in the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, new British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote that calls to action and pledges issued regularly by the Group of Eight and other economic groupings seldom bear fruit.

"The G-8 needs to demonstrate to the public that when we get together and sign up to these things, we mean it," Cameron said.

Unmet pledges getting special attention this year: the G-8's vow in Scotland five years ago to double international aid to Africa by 2010 and to make significant strides in providing access to AIDs treatment to all who need it. Neither of those goals have been achieved.


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