Eight industrialized nations concluded their summit Friday after reaching an agreement on aid to Africa, but failing to reach consensus on climate change or missile defense. Two experts detail the conference results.
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A fleeting friendly moment marked the farewell to the most contentious meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations in the 22 years of these get-togethers. The summit ended today after three days of blunt talk, seeming stalemate, and some wary agreement.
Beyond the reaffirmed commitment to aid for Africa — $60 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria there — the G-8 leaders left other issues unresolved.
There was notable conflict on another big issue on this final day: a U.S., European Union and United Nations plan to grant what is called supervised independence to Kosovo, a province of the former Yugoslavia. Russia continued to support Serbia, its longtime ally. Serbia considers Kosovo an essential part of its heritage and opposes any independence for the province and its ethnic Albanian majority.
President Vladimir Putin rejected the independence proposal, saying Western countries should not humiliate or impose their will on Serbia. A 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Serbia stopped a brutal bout of ethnic cleansing in the province. But since then, the United Nations peacekeeping force has maintained a fragile calm.
On climate change, the Europeans and the U.S. smoothed over their public differences by agreeing to a non-binding pledge to "seriously consider" cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2050. Despite criticism from environmental groups that the Europeans had backed down, German chancellor and host of the meeting, Angela Merkel, sounded an optimistic note.
ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor, Germany (through translator):
Now the path is open for everyone to say that we need these binding targets.
On Darfur, the Group of Eight appealed to the Sudanese government to open a corridor of humanitarian assistance into the war-torn region. President Bush expressed open frustration on the lack of progress in stopping the killing.
GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: I'm frustrated that the international organizations can't move quickly enough. I don't know how long it's going to take for people to hear the call to save lives.
Away from the group meetings, President Bush and Russian President Putin seemed to tamp down some earlier rhetoric over missile defense and democracy that brought reminders of the Cold War to the G-8 summit. At a meeting yesterday, Putin countered an American plan to install missiles and radars in Poland and the Czech Republic with his own plan: to use an old missile base in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.
President Bush, who's insisted the missile defense system is aimed at rogue states and not at Russia, called the Putin idea "interesting." Putin went further today, suggesting the U.S. might explore Turkey or even Iraq as possible locations for the missile bases.
Two views now — one American, one European — on the summit. Charles Kupchan is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University. Reginald Dale is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He's a former correspondent and columnist for the Financial Times and the International Herald-Tribune.
Charles Kupchan, now that it's over and one for the books, a successful meeting, this G-8?