G8 Leaders Tackle Economic Worries On Second Day Of Talks
May 19, 2012
Leaders of the major world economies have kicked off talks on the second day of a Group of Eight (G8) summit overshadowed by the eurozone debt crisis.
The talks at Obama's Camp David retreat near Washington come after Greece dissolved its parliament in the run-up to new elections, amid fears that its political stalemate will force it out of the eurozone.
With the future of the euro in doubt, the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Russia, Italy, and Canada will try to weigh competing demands for growth-friendly spending with Germany's long-standing focus on austerity.
Before the start of the first working session on May 19, Obama told reporters that all the G8 nations were "absolutely committed" to the goals of growth, stability, and fiscal consolidation, as the leaders tried to bridge divisions on how to deal with the eurozone crisis.
Speaking after an early morning bilateral meeting with Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country is not part of the eurozone, called for strong banks and deficit reduction.
At the White House on May 18, Obama and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, said that the aim of the summit was to promote both fiscal discipline and a "strong growth agenda."
The French president, who took office this month, said he and Obama shared "the same conviction that Greece must remain in the eurozone."
Plan A: Keeping Greece In The Euro
Meanwhile, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the European Union would do everything needed to stabilize Greece.
"We are working for a Plan A. Plan A is for Greece to remain in the euro, Greece to respect its commitments and, of course, all the other member states respect also its commitments," Barroso said.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy told a news conference that Europe was going to stick with its plans for Greece and the eurozone.
"As far as Europe is concerned, my message is straightforward: we are determined to stay the course," Van Rompuy said. "We will pursue our comprehensive strategy to decrease deficits and debts and return to growth and job creation."
Greece's long-running economic crisis turned into a full political crisis after parties opposed to the terms of a bailout made strong gains in a May 6 vote, leaving the country without a government.
New elections are set for June 17 with parties opposed to the 130 billion-euro ($168 billion) bailout expected to make further gains.
Analysts say a refusal by Athens to impose the required spending cuts could result in the country quitting the bloc of 17 countries that use the euro. This would further weaken larger countries such as Spain or Italy that are struggling to ease their debt loads.
Talks have also touched on Iran's controversial nuclear program, the ongoing unrest in Syria, and North Korea.
U.S. officials said the G8 agreed Iran needs to disclose more about its nuclear ambitions and that it was time to focus on a political transition in Syria.
After the G8 summit ends later on May 19, most of the leaders will decamp to Chicago to attend a two-day NATO summit starting on May 20.
With reporting by dpa and AFP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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