Main issues at G8 Deauville summit

23rd May 2011, Comments 1 comment

The leaders of the G8 world powers -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- meet from Thursday this week in Deauville, France.

Here are the main items on the agenda:

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: THE ARAB SPRING

The so-called "Arab Spring" sweeping the autocracies of the Arab world will dominate the summit -- events are moving so fast in the flashpoint region that the great powers have had little chance to coordinate a response.

France has set a goal of convincing the G8 members, many of them facing budget crises of their own, to come up with billions in aid to support the new post-revolutionary governments in Tunisia and Libya.

LIBYA AND SYRIA: UNFINISHED BUSINESS

While the strongman rulers of Tunisia and Egypt fell swiftly to popular revolt, Libya's Moamer Kadhafi and Syria's Bashar al-Assad have clung on, and violence is mounting in both countries.

Western and some Arab nations, under NATO command, have begun bombing Libya in support of the rebels. Meanwhile, Assad is under pressure and the threat of sanctions to force him to reform or leave office.

G8 member Russia, however, is the odd one out, demanding an end to military action in Libya and protecting its Syrian ally. Germany abstained from the UN vote authorising the Libyan war.

AFGHANISTAN: A DIGNIFIED EXIT?

After the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, NATO members are under mounting domestic pressure to bring an end to their inconclusive campaign in neighbouring Afghanistan.

European G8 members are keen to make as rapid an exit as possible, but the United States, with its much larger contingent, has a slower timetable as it tries to build stronger Afghan national security forces.

IRAN

Arab uprisings have stolen the headlines, and the Iranian regime appears weakened by internal divisions, but Western powers fear that Tehran's nuclear programme continues apace despite sanctions.

IMF: WHO FOLLOWS STRAUSS-KAHN?

European G8 members seem to be lining up behind French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to replace her compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund.

But will Washington and the other powers agree to appoint another European? Or will they seek a candidate from the emerging economic powers who were once among the fund's main clients?

NUCLEAR POWER: DOES JAPAN QUAKE CHANGE ANYTHING?

Several of the G8 powers, led by France, are also major nuclear energy powers, and the aftermath of fellow member Japan's nuclear disaster will be high on the agenda in Deauville.

Some governments continue to see nuclear power, despite the risks, as the world's best answer to the problem of climate change driven by fossil fuel use. Others, like Germany, are pressing for alternatives.


© 2011 AFP

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