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London Bombings Draw Media Focus from G-8 Summit


Authorities in London now say scores of people were killed and at least 700 injured in the bombs that ripped through three subway trains and a double-decker bus Thursday. The attacks occurred at the height of morning rush hour. Police say they had no prior warning.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the terrorists behind the attacks were acting in what he calls "the name of Islam." A group calling itself the Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe posted a statement on an Arabic website taking responsibility. The authenticity of the statement could not be confirmed.

Mr. Blair, who spoke after returning to London from a Group of Eight summit in Scotland, said most Muslims around the world deplore such acts.

The London bombings have diverted much media attention away from the G8 summit in Scotland. But today, climate change was a major topic of discussion.

Voice of America’s Joe De Capua is at the Gleneagles Summit. He spoke to VOA reporter Kim Lewis about today’s developments.

Joe says Thursday’s bombings in London certainly changed the mood at Gleneagles… especially following Wednesday’s buoyant mood over London being chosen for the 2012 Olympics.

Before leaving the Gleneagles resort to return to London to deal with the terrorist attacks, Prime Minister Blair issued a statement that he said was on behalf of the G-8 leaders and those of five non-G8 countries that are also attending the summit. “We condemn utterly these barbaric attacks,” he said. “We send our profound condolences to the victims and their families. All of our countries have suffered from the impact of terrorism. Those responsible have no respect for human life. We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation but on all nations and on civilized people everywhere. We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values. Nor will we allow it to stop the work of this summit. We will continue our deliberations in the interests of a better world. Here at the summit, the world’s leaders are striving to combat world poverty and save and improve human life. The perpetrators of today’s attacks are intent on destroying human life. The terrorists will not succeed. Today’s bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies. And to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us. We shall prevail and they shall not.”

Reporter Joe De Capua says shortly thereafter, amid the noise of helicopters, President Bush made impromptu comments about the London bombings.

He said, “I appreciate Prime Minister Blair’s steadfast determination and strength. He’s on his way now to London from here at the G8 to speak directly to the people of London. He’ll carry a message of solidarity with him.”

President Bush said he has instructed US homeland security officials to work with local and state officials to safeguard the American public. He also said he noted the contrast between the work of G8 officials in Scotland and those behind the terrorist attacks in the British capital, “On the one hand,” he said, “we’ve got people here working to alleviate poverty -- to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS. They’re working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you’ve got people killing innocent people, and the contrast couldn’t be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty and those who kill. Those who’ve got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks. The war on terror goes on.”

Also, the leaders of other countries attending the summit – South Africa, China, India, Brazil and Mexico have issued a statement on the bombings.

It says, “We condemn these barbaric attacks. We send our profound condolences to the victims and their families…we will not allow violence to change our societies or our values.” The statement added that the terrorists will not succeed.

The bombings took media attention away from today’s focus of the G8 summit, climate change. VOA reporter Joe De Capua says a statement from the G8 today had been expected Thursday on climate change. However, with Tony Blair in London, it appeared that the official announcement will be delayed until Friday. But late Thursday it appeared that French President Jacques Chirac had leaked some of what will be announced Friday.

According to Joe, that includes an agreement to recognize the reality of climate change and the human responsibility and the responsibility of fossil fuels. Leaders will also likely recognize the need for immediate action to reduce greenhouse emissions with the aim of stabilizing and reducing them.

Joe says President Chirac has also made some references to the Kyoto Protocol on emissions. He says the protocol should regulates international action and that there should be a common commitment under the UN Convention on Climate Change, which all G8 countries have agreed on, and that there should be long-term collective action on it.

Mr. Chirac says while the communiqué does not go as far as he would like, it does contain the essential element of reestablishing cooperation between those who signed the Kyoto Protocol and the United States.

Already, environmental groups are releasing statements that say the “G8 summit delivers nothing on climate change.” They also describe the expected communiqué as “a major missed opportunity.”

They accuse the Bush Administration of trying to derail international action to tackle climate change.” Adding it is only a matter of time before President Bush will have to join in efforts to deal with the problem.

Earlier Thursday, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair met with reporters to talk about the summit and the issues before G8 leaders.

Mr. Bush said he expected progress to be made at Gleneagles. “This is going to be a successful summit,” the American president told the press before news of the London attacks. “The reason why is that the Prime Minister set very important goals for the industrialized world to meet. One of which is to help impoverished people on the continent of Africa. I’m proud of my nation’s contribution toward meeting that goal. I think the world when they take a good look at what we achieved here will say all of us is living up to the admonition that to whom much is given much is required.”

Mr. Bush said he brought “specific projects to the table,” including initiatives on malaria, women’s education, violence against women, HIV/AIDS and trade.

“Speaking about trade,” President Bush said, “I think it’s very important for the world to hear very clearly the position of the United States. And that is we want to work with the EU to rid our respective countries of agricultural subsidies. The best place to do that is at the DOHA round (of the World Organization). I would hope that by 2010 that the DOHA round will achieve that objective.”

“Secondly,” he continued, “the Prime Minister’s put global climate change on the table. This is an important issue. It’s an issue where there’s been disagreement in the past, but I think if people look at what the Prime Minister through his leadership has achieved, there’s a consensus that wee need to move forward together. The way to move forward together is to recognize when there’s a problem, which I have since I’ve been the president. And, two, that there is a constructive way to deal with the problem. The most constructive way to deal with the problem from our perspective ids to, one, to not only include the United States in discussions, but also include developing countries in this discussion, countries like India and China.”

Mr. Bush congratulated the British prime minister for including India and China at the G8 summit, where talk of economic growth will be combined with the needed for better stewardship of the environment.

“Secondly,” he said, “this is a great opportunity to discuss the need to share technologies. We’re spending over 20 billion dollars a year on the issue of global warming and on the issue of how to diversify ourselves away from a hydrocarbon-based economy. So that we cannot only have economic security, but a national security. But also so we can deal with this important issue. I look forward to the discussions we’re going to have.”

Prime Minister Blair, basically conceding that the Bush Administration will never support the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emissions, outlined his position.

“You’ve go to understand what we’re trying to do here. And I think people do but it’s just worth me saying this.”

“There’s no point in going back over the Kyoto debate. My country’s got its position on Kyoto. So have others. America’s got its position on Kyoto. That is an argument that there has been and we can’t resolve that. And we’re not going to negotiate some new treaty on climate change at the G8 summit. That’s not what it’s about. What 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, Japan and the emerging economies like Chine, 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’s important that we at least begin a process of dialogue that allows us to make progress on it. And as you’ve just heard, it’s not that America is saying, well, we don’t care about this issue. The investment into research and development into clean technologies is probably greater in America and any other country in the world.

”The question is can we, as we go forward, create the conditions in which when Kyoto ends, which it does in 2012, it’s possible for the world to move into consensus. And if it isn’t possible, then we’ve got a real problem for the future. So, it’s important we set out the ambitions the ambitions fort this summit in a measured way.”

Among those officially invited to the G8 summit are the leaders of South Africa, China, India, Mexico and Brazil. They called on the G8 to help speed the process of giving “greater voice” to developing countries in UN decision-making. This is probably in reference to getting one or two more countries on the UN Security Council.

They also say, “The persistence of hunger and poverty, even when the means to eliminate them are available, is a major obstacle to sustainable development.” They’re asking that G8 nations implement past agreements and commitments to help developing nations, such as the “Consensus of Monterrey” reached at the UN Conference on Financing for Development.

South Africa, India, China, Mexico and Brazil also say that the Millennium Development Goals cannot be met by the target year of 2015 with current levels of overseas development aid.

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