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Industrialised nations intend to create global peacekeeping force
G8 summit marks a new step in trans-Atlantic rapprochement
6/10/2004
 

          SAVANNAH, Georgia, June 9 (AFP): If the Group of Eight summit is aimed at restoring harmony among the world's powers after the turmoil of Iraq, it has also spotlighted lingering tensions over a range of issues.
The unanimous UN Security Council vote Tuesday endorsing plans for the restoration of Iraqi self-rule has given the gathering here a promising start, unlike the prickliness that marked last year's talks in France.
After last week's D-Day commemorations in France, and ahead of the US-European summit in Ireland and NATO summit in Turkey, this year's G8 gathering on Sea Island marks a new step in trans-Atlantic rapprochement.
The chorus of diplomatic satisfaction sounding from the posh resort island was welcome music to US President George W Bush who was hoping to refurbish his statesman credentials ahead of his re-election bid in November.
"The international community showed that it stands side by side with the Iraqi people," Bush exulted for reporters.
Even opponents of last year's US-led invasion of Iraq were more or less upbeat. Russian President Vladmir Putin called the resolution a "major step forward" and France expressed satisfaction at the unanimous vote.
The tone contrasted markedly with the diplomatic venom that flowed before and just after the March 2003 invasion when many analysts said US-European relations had hit their lowest point since World War II.
But despite the cheery pronouncements of a squad of US officials stalking summit journalists to predict a series of breakthroughs on all sorts of subjects, the talks here are still full of potential pitfalls.
For all the words of support for Iraqi reconstruction, neither France, nor Russia, nor Germany, nor Canada show any sign of easing in their refusal to send soldiers to Iraq to give the Americans a hand.
Even if all the G8 partners support a prosperous Iraq, US plans for forgiving the "vast majority" of Iraqi debts have run up against deep reservations from Paris and Moscow, reluctant to go so far for a country drenched in potential oil riches.
US ambitions to spur democracy in the Middle East, once suposed to be the highlight of the summit, have also been scaled back by the United States in the face of fierce resistance from key Arab states and a tepid welcome in Europe.
Europeans, keen to preseve their own dialogue with the Arab world, seem unwilling to go much further than an expression of support for the general principle of the battered US scheme.
European Commission president Romano Prodi said US policy in the Middle East, particularly over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was far from commanding unanimous support.
A Russian official here said the summiteers had yet to reach agreement on at least two other major issues.
Reuters adds: The Group of Eight industrial nations intends to help create a global peacekeeping force of more than 50,000 people over the next five to six years, senior US officials said Tuesday.
The two officials, briefing reporters at the summit, said the initiative grew out of African requests for assistance in ending the wars that plague the continent.
"And it really is sort of unique -- it's the first time the G8 has taken on a specific -- a pledge like this, and has said we are going to train this number of peacekeepers over this timeframe, and we're going to seek to equip them, and we're going to seek to help them get to where they want to be," the official said.
They said that although the initiative would be launched in Africa, where the need was greatest, its scope was global. "The idea is to train peacekeepers and equip them and enable them to get to where they're needed all over the world," one official said.
"Security is a necessary condition for all the reforms and progress that we hope to promote around the world ... It's not for a lack of willingness that African nations and other nations are unable to sometimes deal with the peace support operations that they find themselves charged with.
The Bush administration would seek 660 million dollars from Congress to spend over the next five years for training and equipment, the US officials said.
Meanwhile, Bush, fresh from gaining passage of a critical UN resolution on Iraq, introduces the new president of Iraq to fellow leaders at the Group of Eight summit today.
At the same time, G8 negotiators were working to complete the details of an initiative urging Arab and Muslim leaders in the Middle East and North Africa to adopt democratic reforms.
Iraq's new president, Ghazi al-Yawar, will make his first entrance on the world stage when he has lunch with Bush and leaders from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. He will then be introduced to the other G8 leaders. SAVANNAH, Georgia, June 9 (AFP): If the Group of Eight summit is aimed at restoring harmony among the world's powers after the turmoil of Iraq, it has also spotlighted lingering tensions over a range of issues.
The unanimous UN Security Council vote Tuesday endorsing plans for the restoration of Iraqi self-rule has given the gathering here a promising start, unlike the prickliness that marked last year's talks in France.
After last week's D-Day commemorations in France, and ahead of the US-European summit in Ireland and NATO summit in Turkey, this year's G8 gathering on Sea Island marks a new step in trans-Atlantic rapprochement.
The chorus of diplomatic satisfaction sounding from the posh resort island was welcome music to US President George W Bush who was hoping to refurbish his statesman credentials ahead of his re-election bid in November.
"The international community showed that it stands side by side with the Iraqi people," Bush exulted for reporters.
Even opponents of last year's US-led invasion of Iraq were more or less upbeat. Russian President Vladmir Putin called the resolution a "major step forward" and France expressed satisfaction at the unanimous vote.
The tone contrasted markedly with the diplomatic venom that flowed before and just after the March 2003 invasion when many analysts said US-European relations had hit their lowest point since World War II.
But despite the cheery pronouncements of a squad of US officials stalking summit journalists to predict a series of breakthroughs on all sorts of subjects, the talks here are still full of potential pitfalls.
For all the words of support for Iraqi reconstruction, neither France, nor Russia, nor Germany, nor Canada show any sign of easing in their refusal to send soldiers to Iraq to give the Americans a hand.
Even if all the G8 partners support a prosperous Iraq, US plans for forgiving the "vast majority" of Iraqi debts have run up against deep reservations from Paris and Moscow, reluctant to go so far for a country drenched in potential oil riches.
US ambitions to spur democracy in the Middle East, once suposed to be the highlight of the summit, have also been scaled back by the United States in the face of fierce resistance from key Arab states and a tepid welcome in Europe.
Europeans, keen to preseve their own dialogue with the Arab world, seem unwilling to go much further than an expression of support for the general principle of the battered US scheme.
European Commission president Romano Prodi said US policy in the Middle East, particularly over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was far from commanding unanimous support.
A Russian official here said the summiteers had yet to reach agreement on at least two other major issues.
Reuters adds: The Group of Eight industrial nations intends to help create a global peacekeeping force of more than 50,000 people over the next five to six years, senior US officials said Tuesday.
The two officials, briefing reporters at the summit, said the initiative grew out of African requests for assistance in ending the wars that plague the continent.
"And it really is sort of unique -- it's the first time the G8 has taken on a specific -- a pledge like this, and has said we are going to train this number of peacekeepers over this timeframe, and we're going to seek to equip them, and we're going to seek to help them get to where they want to be," the official said.
They said that although the initiative would be launched in Africa, where the need was greatest, its scope was global. "The idea is to train peacekeepers and equip them and enable them to get to where they're needed all over the world," one official said.
"Security is a necessary condition for all the reforms and progress that we hope to promote around the world ... It's not for a lack of willingness that African nations and other nations are unable to sometimes deal with the peace support operations that they find themselves charged with.
The Bush administration would seek 660 million dollars from Congress to spend over the next five years for training and equipment, the US officials said.
Meanwhile, Bush, fresh from gaining passage of a critical UN resolution on Iraq, introduces the new president of Iraq to fellow leaders at the Group of Eight summit today.
At the same time, G8 negotiators were working to complete the details of an initiative urging Arab and Muslim leaders in the Middle East and North Africa to adopt democratic reforms.
Iraq's new president, Ghazi al-Yawar, will make his first entrance on the world stage when he has lunch with Bush and leaders from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. He will then be introduced to the other G8 leaders.

 

SEA ISLAND, Georgia : Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his wife Lyudmila (2nd R) are greeted by US President George W Bush (L) and US First Lady Laura Bush (2nd L) during the Group of Eight Summit here Tuesday. AFP Photo
 
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