G8 Leaders to Discuss Africa, ClimateBy Scott Stearns
05 July 2008

Leaders from the world's biggest industrial nations meet in Japan on Monday for the annual Group of Eight summit. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has this report on the summit agenda.

President Bush gestures during remarks on upcoming G8 summit in the Rose Garden of the White House, 02 Jul 2008U.S. President George Bush says he will use this year's G8 summit to press other leaders to honor previous commitments to help Africa.

"We need people who not only make promises, but write checks for the sake of human rights and human dignity and for the sake of peace. Accountability is really important when it comes to our work on the continent of Africa," President Bush said.

Two years ago, G8 leaders promised to double financial assistance to Africa to $22 billion by the year 2010. But the nonpartisan AIDS and poverty awareness group the One Campaign says just 14 percent of those funds have been delivered.

Julianne Smith directs the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan public policy research group in Washington.

"I think one thing Bush can say to the other G8 leaders is, look, the data that's out in terms of compliance, with the commitments that were made at the last - you know, they always check countries' compliance with the commitments that are made at the last summit," she said. "And the U.S. is really at the top of the list if you look at that data. And so, I think President Bush can come to the summit and say, I would like to see other countries increase their compliance with the commitments, whether it is aid to Africa or other economic commitments we have made."

Global climate change is also on the agenda. At last year's G8 meeting in Germany, President Bush blocked binding limits on greenhouse gases because they did not apply to other big polluters, including China and India.

Venue for Group of eight Hokkaido Toyako summit meeting at Windsor Hotel Toya in Toyako, northern JapanThis year's summit will include China and India in a separate meeting of 16 major economies responsible for 80 percent of world carbon-dioxide emissions.

Michael Levi is the Senior Fellow for energy and environment at the nonpartisan private research group the Council on Foreign Relations. He says summit host Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda wants to keep the United States in the process ahead of what many world leaders expect to be a different approach to climate change from the next American president.

"I think you will see a similar thing at this meeting: the Japanese trying to balance a desire to have the strongest-possible outcome with an even larger interest in making sure that whatever path this meeting sets the group on for the future, the United States can be part of it and a new U.S. administration can steer it in a direction that they will be pleased with," he said.

Prime Minister Fukuda wants a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. White House officials say that is a worthy goal, but they are focused more on each nation setting its own mid-term targets.

Michael Green was senior director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council in 2004 and 2005. He is now an associate professor of international relations at Georgetown University.

"The other leaders know there is an election in November. And they are looking very, very closely at the positions that Senators McCain and Obama are taking on issues like climate change, non-proliferation, North Korea, Iran, and so forth," Green noted. "But I do not think that the president's potential leadership role or stature is as diminished as you might expect in this forum, in part because he knows them all quite well. They have a working relationship. They have a common interest in demonstrating that this forum can do something."

In addition to China and India, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa are invited to this summit as are South Korea, Indonesia, and Australia. Reflecting the meeting's focus on African issues, the head of the African Union is expected to attend as are the leaders of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania.

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