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Berlusconi the statesman, not the playboy

July 10, 2009 Leave a comment

By Guy Dinmore and George Parker in L’Aquila, July 10, 2009

From scandal-plagued playboy to international statesman, Silvio Berlusconi’s gamble to host the G8 summit in the quake-torn town of L’Aquila has silenced his critics and soothed his allies, at least for the moment.

For the 72-year-old billionaire prime minister, the three-day summit of 40 heads of government and international organisations concluding yesterday was as much a success for what did not happen.

Aides were visibly relieved that none of their worst fears materialised — no aftershocks from the April 6 quake disturbed proceedings; no prosecutors announced investigations into well publicised allegations that prostitutes were procured last year for his lavish parties; and no reporter, Italian or otherwise, had the temerity to ask Mr Berlusconi about his sleeping habits. Read more…

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G8 to commit $20bn for food security

July 10, 2009 Leave a comment

By Guy Dinmore and Giulia Segreti in L’Aquila, published on FT on July 10, 2009

World leaders on Friday pledged to commit $20bn over three years for a “food security initiative” to develop agriculture in poorest countries, but aid agencies responded with scepticism, pointing to a chain of broken promises and a habit of switching around existing budgets.

The G8 summit of rich countries in L’Aquila, central Italy, had aimed to pledge $15bn. Ministers described how a last whip-round before delegations left came up with an extra $5bn to make a bigger headline figure.

“There is an urgent need for decisive action to free humankind from hunger and poverty,” said a joint statement of 40 heads of government and international organisations convened by the G8. Read more…

G8 talk to African leaders on food security funds

July 10, 2009 Leave a comment

by Guy Dinmore in L’Aquila, July 10, 2009

Leaders of the G8 club of rich countries were joined on Friday morning by heads of African governments and international institutions to finalise a multi-billion dollar food security fund for agriculture.

The final day of the three-day G8 summit in L’Aquila, central Italy, was expected to conclude with a declaration on food security and pledges totalling some $15bn over three years.
Read more…

Climate change deal eludes big nations

July 9, 2009 Leave a comment

By Guy Dinmore in L’Aquila, Italy July 9, 2009

Leaders of the world’s 16 biggest polluting countries last night failed to agree on targets and funding to cut greenhouse gases, setting the stage for recriminations between rich and poor nations and jeopardising the outcome of the key UN climate summit set for December.

A sombre Barack Obama, US president who chaired the meeting of the Major Economies Forum in Italy, said he acknowledged that progess would not be easy and that it would be “no small task” to bridge the differences.

Read more…

G8 cautious on Iran amid hopes for talks

July 9, 2009 Leave a comment

By Guy Dinmore in L’Aquila, July 9, 2009

G8 leaders on Wednesday night agreed to give Iran more time to accept negotiations over its nuclear ambitions after Russia reiterated it would not support further sanctions at this point.

A statement issued after the dinner meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, expressed “serious concern” over events in Iran, deplored violence against peaceful demonstrators and, in a reference to the detention of Iranians working for the UK embassy in Tehran, called on the Iranian authorities to stop the intimidation of foreign missions. Read more…

Nuclear hopes drive caution on Iran

July 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Group of Eight leaders were divided last night on whether to take a tough approach on Iran’s crackdown on opposition protesters, weighing the risk of jeopardising possible talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

At issue was whether the leaders would make a united condemnation of Iran. But diplomats said the heads of government were unlikely to move further than a statement issued by their foreign ministers in mid-June, which deplored the violence in Iran and expressed “solidarity” with peaceful demonstrators contesting the results of the presidential elections. Read more…

G8 diary – No free lunches, even at G8, says IMF chief

July 8, 2009 Leave a comment

“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, told a news conference more than once after lunch at the G8 summit, expressing his concerns that world leaders had to start thinking seriously about their “exit strategy” after massive fiscal stimulus packages.

Asked by the FT who had paid for his lunch, Mr Strauss-Kahn replied. “Probably you”.

But he defended these ever more frequent gatherings of world leaders — in April in London, this week in L’Aquila
and then next to Pittsburgh in September.

“Globalisation is not just a topic for  FT editorial  pages,” he added.

But he also expressed the view that the days of the G8 were numbered as it evolved into something bigger and broader.