The summit is under pressure to make concrete gains on climate change [Reuters]
Leaders of some of the richest countries in the world - the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations - are in Japan for three days of talks.

Here are the main issues to be discussed:

African development

The meeting is to begin with a focus on African development issues. Representatives from eight emerging nations, such as South Africa and Ghana, have been invited to a special summit session on Monday.

G8 leaders are under pressure to make good on aid commitments to Africa from 2005. They had pledged to increase aid to Africa by more than $25bn by 2010.

Global economy

Record crude oil prices and the soaring cost of food, which are threatening world economic growth, are high on the agenda, with leaders pledging to come up with concrete steps to help alleviate the crisis that is fueling global inflation and also aggravating poverty.

"The Japanese [have] focused their entire summit on making the breakthrough that the world really needs to control climate change"

John Kirton, director of the G8 researcfh group

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said leaders would agree on steps to fight the soaring prices.

"A vast catalogue of measures to guarantee food supplies worldwide" is expected to be adopted, she told German newspaper Tagesspiegel am Sonntag.

The steps will provide short-term relief to the crisis and a long-term strategy to increase world agricultural production.

Also under discussion will be a collective message on how to stabilise global markets as the US economy flags.

Climate change

After agreeing at the last G8 summit in Germany to "consider seriously" at least halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the leaders are under pressure from host Japan to make strides in creating a post-2012 climate change framework.

John Kirton, director of the G8 research group, told Al Jazeera: "From the start, the Japanese [have] focused their entire summit on making the breakthrough that the world really needs to control climate change, which is causing such damage around the world."

But disagreements on setting gas emission targets are likely to hamper real progress.

"It's not just the United States, it's Japan and Canada and others," Kirton said. 

"They know that today, we can't solve the climate change problem unless all the major emitters take binding commitments."

Zimbabwe

The assembled leaders are expected to discuss the widely-denounced Zimbabwean poll on June 27 and question the legitimacy of Robert Mugabe's government.

Mugabe was inaugurated for a sixth term on June 29 after claiming victory in an election in which he was the only candidate.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the main opposition leader, dropped out of the run-off vote in protest against what he said was a campaign of violence and intimidation.

George Bush, the US president, hopes the G8 will "strongly condemn" Mugabe, as Washington pushes ahead with proposed UN sanctions against his government.

North Korea

Leaders of the countries that brokered an accord aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear programme - South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan - plan to discus the next steps to be taken to verify Pyongyang's disabling of its nuclear installations.

Iran

Iran's nuclear programme is also on on the agenda.

G8 leaders are expected to discuss Tehran's response, made last week but not yet disclosed publicly, to a plan from six world powers offering technology and negotiations if Iran suspends uranium enrichment.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies