President Bush is in the German Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm for
the three-day summit of the G-8 group of the world's leading industrial nations.
The summit opens Wednesday amid protests and policy differences, as VOA's Sonja
Pace reports from near Heiligendamm.
Air Force One touched down
as scheduled in the northern German city of Rostock. The president and Mrs. Bush
immediately boarded a helicopter for the short flight to Heiligendamm on the
The protesters were not far away. They have been gathering in the area for
days, hoping to make their presence known and felt.
Some are against globalization, some against the Iraq war, some belong to
anarchist organizations. Authorities estimate about 100,000 protesters have
gathered in Rostock and the vicinity. A pervasive police presence in the area is
designed to keep them from reaching the summit site.
The summit opens Wednesday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts her
counterparts from Britain, France, Italy, Japan, the United States, Canada and
Russia. Also here for discussions are the leaders of China, India, Mexico,
Brazil, South Africa and other African nations.
Mrs. Merkel would like to see agreement on benchmark limits to emissions that
are blamed for global warming, but the United States and some other countries
are reluctant to commit themselves to that.
The summit is likely to be overshadowed by rising tensions between the United
States and Russia over Washington's proposal to build a missile defense system
in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Bush Administration says the system is
necessary to thwart possible attacks from countries such as Iran. Russian
President Vladimir Putin dismisses that and says the missile system is a threat
Speaking in the Czech capital earlier Tuesday, President Bush said Russia has
nothing to fear.
"Russia's not our enemy," said President Bush. "The enemy of a free society
such as ours would be a radical or extremist or rogue regime trying to blackmail
the free world in order to promote its ideological objectives. And so my
attitude on missile defense, not my attitude, this is the truth, it is a purely
defensive measure aimed not at Russia but at true threats."
But President Bush also chastised
the Russian leader for not following through on promised democratic reforms. The
two leaders are to meet for bilateral talks during the summit.
A renewed commitment of aid to Africa and debt relief for the continent are
also major priorities at this G8 summit. G8 members promised increased
assistance for Africa at their summit in Scotland two years ago, but aid experts
say many of those promises have not been fulfilled.
chastise :to criticize severely;