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U.K.: London Explosions Interrupt G-8 Summit

By Robert Parsons

Today's deadly explosions in London have disrupted what was to be a full day of talks on global warming and world trade between the world's seven most powerful industrialized countries plus Russia, the Group of Eight (G-8). The host of the talks, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, left the G-8 summit to return temporarily to London. In a brief statement, he said the blasts were timed with the opening of the summit, which had been hailed as one of the most important in the history of the G-8.

Prague, 7 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Tony Blair appeared shaken but determined as he announced he was leaving the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to return temporarily to London.

"It is the will of all the leaders at the G-8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach," Blair said.

Blair decried today's explosions in central London as "terrorist attacks" and said it was "particularly barbaric" coming on a day when the world's major nations were gathered to discuss African poverty and the global ecology.

"Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it is also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G-8 [meeting]," he said.

Before the London explosions, the biggest concern on today's G-8 agenda was the continued standoff on climate change.

The United States is alone in not having signed the Kyoto agreement on global warming. President George W. Bush has made it clear he will not change his mind. But he has signaled that he comes to Gleneagles seeking common ground with his G-8 colleagues on global warming.

"Now is the time to get beyond the Kyoto period and develop a [climate-change] strategy [going] forward that is inclusive of not only of the United States but of the developing nations and, of course, nations like Great Britain," Bush said.

Blair, who holds the G-8 presidency and is hosting the summit, is another who appeared ready to look for a different option to Kyoto. He and Bush disagree on climate change, but Blair is unlikely to achieve much without U.S. cooperation on an environmental agreement.

"What it is about [the global climate-change discussion] is seeing whether it will be possible in the future to bring people back into consensus together," Blair said. "Not just America and Europe and Japan, but also America, Europe, Japan, and the emerging economies like China, like India who, in the future, are going to be the major consumers of energy. Now, can we do that? I don't know. But it is important that we at least begin a process of dialogue that allows us to make progress on it."

No breakthrough then on climate change -- but a joint statement perhaps on the urgent need to fight global warming -- the beginning of a new process to develop clean technologies and involve the major developing countries in the debate.

Other agreements are likely to be similarly problematic. A deal on ending agricultural subsidies, seen by many as the key to boosting exports from Africa, looks as elusive as ever. Real progress, if it is to be achieved, won't come until tomorrow, when the world's leaders discuss how to reduce poverty in Africa.

Protests surrounding the summit have been largely peaceful, although British police have made nearly 200 arrests. For now, the focus has moved to London and the chaos there.

Copyright (c) 2005. 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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