G8 summit ends without US-French agreement

Despite efforts to breach long-existing differences over the handling of post-war Iraq, France and the US remain at odds over a future NATO role for the country.

    Chirac and Bush agree to disagree over Iraq

    A G8 summit meant to enshrine a new era of trans-Atlantic unity wrapped up Thursday, with new cracks evident over Iraq, but commitments to battle global poverty and terrorism.
     
    US President George Bush and French President Jacques Chirac could not agree on a future role played by NATO in Iraq.

    Bush, however, said he was pleased by G8 pledges of support for the occupied country.

    "The response here at the G8 has been very encouraging," Bush told reporters, but though keen to alleviate the plight of battle weary US soldiers in Iraq, admitted "I don't expect more troops from NATO to be offered up."

    'Awkward show'

    Bush and Chirac had earlier failed to patch up their row over
    NATO in Iraq, after the US called for more involvement in the occupation for the western alliance. 
      
    A source close to Chirac said, "for us it would be awkward to show the NATO flag in Iraq."

    But casting around for areas of agreement after their face-to-face meeting, Chirac settled on cheeseburger diplomacy, complimenting Bush on the fare served at this exclusive resort hosting the summit.

    G8 expansion?

    The G8 summit also opened the possibility of membership expansion to question.

    Brazil is among possible candidates to join the G8 club of rich nations and would accept an offer to represent poor countries at the group, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said on Thursday.

    France and other nations have suggested Brazil, India and China should be invited to join the Group of Eight leading industrial nations due to their growing influence in world political and economic affairs, Amorim said.

    "If we are invited we would be ready to join and I think we, together with India and China, and others, would represent all the interests of developing countries," Amorim told Reuters on a flight to Sao Paulo for trade and development talks.
     
    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday said G8 leaders were thinking of inviting China and India to be full members of the club now comprised of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia.

    German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, in response to a question at the G8 meeting in the U.S. state of Georgia, on Thursday confirmed expanded G8 membership was under discussion and Brazil, China and India had been mentioned as candidates.

    Al-Yawir meeting

    Meanwhile, the newly appointed president of the transitional Iraqi government, Sheik Ghazi al-Yawir, met with Senate leaders in Washington.

    Al-Yawir had been attending the G8 summit at Sea Island, Georgia.

    Al-Yawir on Thursday welcomed the idea of NATO participation in a multinational force to maintain security as his country moves toward elections.

    SOURCE: AFP


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