G-8 leaders gather for summit as Blair lowers expectations

Thousands of protesters clash with police outside

Bush suffers bike mishap

July 07, 2005|By Tom Hundley and Mark Silva | Tom Hundley and Mark Silva,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

EDINBURGH, Scotland - As leaders of the world's wealthiest industrialized nations assembled yesterday for their summit at the Gleneagles resort and police scuffled with protesters, British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to lower expectations for breakthroughs on global warming and aid to Africa.

For Blair, the host of this year's Group of Eight summit, it was a roller-coaster day. Just before noon, he received word that London had been selected as the site for the 2012 Olympics, beating Paris by four votes.

"I've been trying to work on the G-8 stuff, but I have to say that my mind has been in two places today," said Blair, who arrived in Scotland after a long flight from Singapore, where the International Olympic Committee made its announcement.

Earlier in the day, Blair learned that President Bush was not budging in his opposition to Britain's call for G-8 countries to double aid to Africa to $50 billion by 2010 and to increase foreign aid to poor nations to the equivalent of 0.7 percent of national incomes by 2015.

Bush, during a stopover in Denmark on his way to the summit, said African countries would have to curb corruption and demonstrate good governance to get increased aid.

"I don't know how we can look our taxpayers in the eye and say, `This is a good deal, to give money to countries that are corrupt,'" Bush said. "We want to make sure that the governments invest in their people, invest in the health of their people, the education of their people, and fight corruption."

Bush yielded slightly on the issue of global warming.

"I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem," Bush said.

Yet, he remains opposed to the Kyoto Protocol, which the other G-8 nations have embraced, calling for timetables for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Instead, the White House insists it is intent on "getting beyond Kyoto" with agreements among industrial nations to cut pollution without placing restrictions on the United States or developing nations that could hamper their economies.

"There's a better way forward," Bush said. "I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies, to control greenhouse gases as best as possible."

Faryar Shirzad, Bush's representative in G-8 negotiations, said: "What we're trying to do is find the common ground between our approach on the climate issue and the approach the other G-8 nations have taken. Their approach has largely been driven by working through the Kyoto Protocol. Ours has been one based on trying to advance the science and technology ... so that we provide a longer-term solution."

While aides tried to hammer out a statement that would paper over differences, Blair insisted publicly that he would push for a breakthrough. "I feel a genuine sense of moral urgency. Now is the moment," he said. "Do you get everything you want in negotiations like this? The answer is no."

The members of the Group of Eight are the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

Bush, Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin had what was described as a "working meeting" with Bono and Bob Geldof, the rock celebrities who have mobilized popular support for African aid.

If the mood inside the summit was one of forced cordiality, on the outside it was downright hostility as about 3,000 riot police battled with a similar number of anti-globalization demonstrators in the fields that surround the famous golf resort near Edinburgh.

The protesters, who have become a regular feature at these summits, tried to breach a 5-mile-long security fence that seals off the resort. They were beaten back by police with riot shields, batons and dogs.

Earlier, Bush collided with a local police officer and fell during a bike ride at Gleneagles. Bush suffered "mild to moderate" scrapes on his hands and arms that required bandages by the White House physician, said spokesman Scott McClellan.

Police said the officer suffered a "very minor" ankle injury and was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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