G8 agenda: Nuke safety, Arab and Africa

Updated: 2011-05-26 09:57

By Zhang Haizhou and Zhang Chunyan (

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DEAUVILLE, FRANCE – Under the theme of “New World, New Ideas”, this year’s G8 summit will open on Thursday in the French resort of Deauville, with the situation in Africa and the Arab world joining nuclear safety and the future of the internet on the agenda.

The situations in Africa and the Arab world will be high on the agenda at the two-day summit, as heads of state from 10 African nations will attend an outreach session. Chairman of the African Union Commission Jean Ping will also be in attendance.

However, the summit will kick-off with a working lunch under the topic of “Solidarity with Japan and Global Economy”, where G8 leaders will show their support for quake-struck and tsunami-hit Japan.

This will be followed by the first working session during which the participants will discuss nuclear safety.

Tougher international safety standards for nuclear power will be discussed and it is expected differences in opinions between participating countries may emerge.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster after the massive Japanese earthquake in March has created a rift in the G8, with three of its members losing faith in nuclear’s promise of almost limitless clean energy.

With many Japanese convinced nuclear stations pose an enormous risk in a quake-prone country, the country’s electorate is unlikely to accept any future construction of nuclear plants.

Germany, which is already committed to scrapping nuclear power within roughly 25 years, is even more strongly anti-nuclear.

Italy is another G8 member state against nuclear power. The country established a policy to discontinue building nuclear sites after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

But the US, Russia, Canada, France and Britain remain nuclear advocates.

After the nuclear issue, the second formal discussion will focus on Internet regulations, a topic on which France and the UK may have different views.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for this year’s G8 summit to include the Internet on its agenda, the first time the topic has been discussed at this level. But British Prime Minister David Cameron, as reported, may oppose France’s suggestions on how to regulate the cyber world.

Arab and Africa high on list

Day one of the summit will wrap up with an evening discussion on the situation in the Arab world.

Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa will also attend the summit together with the prime ministers of the interim regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, Beji Caid Essebbi and Essam Abdel Aziz Ahmed Sharaf.

The summit will also be part of US President Barack Obama’s first major international tour since the killing of Osama bin Laden. He was in Ireland and the UK earlier this week.

He is traveling here days after a landmark speech in Washington calling for a new direction in American policy toward the Arab world.

Obama will seek support in Deauville for his policy to back the regimes that are emerging from protests that toppled long-standing leaders in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year as well as for protesters in other Arab nations.

“We support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region,” Obama said in his speech at the State Department. “It will be the policy of the US to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.”

In addition to the Arab world, the African situation will be another important topic of on day two.

The G8 delegations will meet with invited African leaders during two sessions, where discussions will focus on peace and security in African, and the region’s development.

IMF to attend

The International Monetary Fund’s Acting Managing Director John Lipsky will attend the summit after its former chief, Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned over an alleged sex scandal in New York.

Reports have said the G8 delegations may reach consensus on who they would back to pursue the vacated head position at the IMF.

Christine Lagarde, the current French finance minister, launched her bid to become the next IMF chief on Wednesday.

Apart from the IMF, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will also participate in the Summit.

Security tightened

Security was tightened around Deauville, the seaside resort in Northwest France on Wednesday, one day before the annual gathering.

With a total of 25 high-level delegations from 18 countries and 7 international organizations, French government have deployed more than 12,000 policemen and troops to watch over the Summit.


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