EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France - When President Bush and the other Group of 8 leaders gather to discuss the world's problems today and tomorrow, they will no doubt be hoping that this spa on the shores of Lake Geneva will be the source of something more than bubbling spring water.
Their host, President Jacques Chirac of France, will press them to turn their attention from terrorism, Iraq and the Middle East to restarting a process of helping less-developed regions of the world, most notably Africa.
Chirac is expected to say that the wealthiest nations must increase their spending for education, health care, water and farming and that they must help restructure government institutions and encourage investment in the poorer regions of the world.
To press his case, Chirac has invited to the summit the leaders of 12 developing countries, including nations in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. In addition to the United States and France, the Group of 8 is composed of Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.
Bush and the rest of the leaders will be arguing over a broad agenda addressing how to keep the global economy from veering seriously off course, but they will do so under the shadow of differences over Iraq. Among the leaders scheduled to attend, only Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy supported the war.
Sluggish growth in the markets of the world and the threat of deflation hanging over some major economies, such as Japan's and Germany's, are rekindling concern that whatever economic progress seems to be under way may prove to be too fragile to last.
Yet Chirac summoned the confidence last week to tell reporters that he was "convinced that Evian can send a message of confidence about the growth of the world economy," presumably one of his principal goals for the meeting.
French security forces are taking extraordinary measures around this usually serene lakeside town and around nearby Geneva, just across the lake in Switzerland, to prevent the kind of violent demonstrations that marred the G-8 meeting two years ago in the Italian port of Genoa and the Summit of the Americas in Quebec in 2000.
An assortment of protest groups, including anti-globalization organizations, have assembled on both sides of the French-Swiss border near Evian. They plan two columns of marches today from points in both countries that will meet at the border in a display of opposition to the perceived evils of globalization, free trade, corporate greed and environmental destruction.
European officials doubt that Bush's overnight trip to Evian, cut from two days to one, can help Europe and the United States find common solutions to their problems. "The rest of the world and the United States have varying approaches," said a French official briefing reporters on the meeting.
Differences over Iraq, French officials said, overshadowed even the preparatory discussions for the meeting.
Tomorrow, Bush and Chirac will meet one on one, their first such encounter since the war in Iraq. French officials say matters besides Iraq will fill the agenda.
"One cannot measure the thickness of the handshake and the breadth of the smile" to judge progress, one French official said.
Much of the meeting today will focus on growth and international cooperation. Switzerland's president will also attend, acknowledging Swiss help in arranging the Evian meeting. The 12 developing-world leaders are staying in Lausanne, on the Swiss shore facing Evian, and will travel to the meeting by boat.
French officials say Chirac invited the 12 leaders - from Algeria, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and South Africa - to underscore how prosperity in the industrialized West hinges on the economic success of developing countries.