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G-8 Summit Opens in Scotland

Tony Blair, left, and George W. Bush
The G-8 summit is formally underway in Gleneagles, Scotland, with aid to Africa and climate change topping the agenda. Before the summit began, President Bush held one-on-one talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The summit appears set to make a major announcement on aid to Africa, with negotiations continuing even as the leaders of the world's seven leading industrialized countries and Russia gathered at this scenic golf resort.

As he wrapped up his talks with President Bush, Prime Minister Blair appeared optimistic.

"The commitments that we have entered into over the past period of time on Africa, as you know, through the focus of the G-8 I think has meant we are in a position where I hope very much we can meet the reasonable expectations of many millions of people outside," he said.

But his tone when it came to the subject of climate change could best be described as pragmatic. He said he realizes that the United States will never back the Kyoto Protocol, which is designed to cut emissions that pollute the air and warm the atmosphere. Mr. Blair said he did not bring the G-8 leaders to Gleneagles to try to renegotiate Kyoto, but to look ahead and get a new dialogue going that will enable the world to come together when the pact expires in 2012.

"What it is about is seeing whether it will be possible in the future to bring people back into consensus together - not just America and Europe and Japan, but also America, Europe and Japan and the emerging economies, like China, like India, who, in the future, are going to be the major consumers of energy," the prime minister said.

For his part, President Bush - who is the only G-8 leader to reject the treaty - said Britain as the summit host was right to put these important issues at the top of the agenda. He too spoke of moving forward on climate change, and said there should be more of a focus on providing developing countries with alternative energy technologies that are cleaner and safer.

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

He said it is important that China and India are among the countries joining the G-8 during its deliberations on climate change. African nations will be guests of the summit on Friday.