Merkel a G8 success despite pre-summit pessimism

8th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 June 2007, Heiligendamm, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has booked another success for her style of quiet but persistent diplomacy at the Group of Eight (G8) summit in the northern resort of Heiligendamm. At the start of the week, prospects for success had looked dim. US officials were making clear they would not agree to any definite measures to curb climate change, and a dispute between the US and Russia over missile defences was threatening to erupt into a major diplomatic confrontati

8 June 2007

Heiligendamm, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has booked another success for her style of quiet but persistent diplomacy at the Group of Eight (G8) summit in the northern resort of Heiligendamm.

At the start of the week, prospects for success had looked dim.

US officials were making clear they would not agree to any definite measures to curb climate change, and a dispute between the US and Russia over missile defences was threatening to erupt into a major diplomatic confrontation.

But by the end of Thursday, a climate agreement was in place, and a standoff between the world's two main nuclear powers averted.

"We have a great success ... a major step forward," Merkel said after G8 leaders gave their go-ahead to a deal on curbing climate change that she had pushed for as host ahead of the summit.

In its communique, the G8 said it would consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan to at least halve global emissions by 2050.

"We commit to achieving these goals and invite the major emerging economies to join us in this endeavour," the leaders said.

A significant turnaround from the pre-summit position adopted by the United States, it was also a considerable personal success for Merkel, whose own officials had appeared ready to concede defeat and had begun dampening expectations.

Merkel's satisfaction was evident as she faced the German television networks to announce the deal.

On her own admission, the chancellor played little direct role in the other summit success.

The planned US missile defence system in Central Europe had threatened to turn into a major confrontation between presidents George W Bush and Vladimir Putin.

But on Thursday - the main day of substantive negotiations - it was all smiles with the two leaders joking at a joint press briefing.

Putin proposed the joint use of a radar station rented by the Russians in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan - located on Iran's north-western border - to counter a future possible threat from long-range Iranian missiles.

Once Iran began testing such missiles, it would be relatively easy to put a missile defence system in place, the Russian leader said.

Bush said experts on both sides would look into the issue, as Putin withdrew his threat to point Russian missiles at Europe.

"This will make it unnecessary for us to place our offensive complexes along the borders with Europe," the Russian leader said.

This represented a sharp change of tone from the dire warnings of an increase in "the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict" he had expressed as recently as Monday in the London Times.

Merkel said there had been no need for her to mediate between the US and Russian presidents, but the fact that the rapprochement took place on her turf under the German G8 presidency could only redound to the chancellor's credit.

Another diplomatic hurdle lies ahead in the shape of the EU summit in Brussels in two weeks, the last under the German EU presidency that runs out at the end of the month.

Merkel has made relaunching the stalled European constitutional process the key aim of the six-month German presidency.

And even here, the signs were good that progress on a slimmed down constitutional treaty was likely.

DPA

Subject: German news

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