The two-day summit of eight world leaders in western Canada begins Wednesday morning in a mountain resort town near Calgary.
While some Canadian officials worry that U.S. President George W. Bush's Mideast peace plan will pre-empt the summit agenda, Prime Minister Jean Chretien dismisses that possibility. He joked to reporters that the agenda that focuses heavily on African development will remain unchanged, because he will be chairing the meetings.
The center piece of this 28th annual summit of major economic powers is an "Action Plan for Africa," a development initiative that will be unveiled on Thursday. The summit is being attended by the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and four west European nations. African leaders from South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Algeria will join the meeting on Thursday.
Prime Minister Chretien selected the village of Kananaskis in the Canadian Rocky Mountains as the summit venue because it is remote and easily sealed off from possible protests. The scenic resort and its two hotels are in the foothills of the Rockies, 80 kilometers west of Calgary. Last year's summit in Genoa, Italy was marred by violent anti-globalization protests. Some 2,000 protesters are said to be organizing here in Calgary. Police are out in force.
The leaders began arriving in Calgary Tuesday. They are traveling individually to Kananaskis by helicopter. Prime minister Chretien hosts an informal reception Tuesday evening. The leaders meet Wednesday, as the Group of Seven, to discuss economic issues and then are joined later in the day by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Bush's just-announced proposal to settle the Israeli Palestinian dispute is expected to be discussed Wednesday evening. Besides the new aid and investment initiative for Africa, the summit will discuss other world trouble spots and trends in the Asian, North American and European economies. The summit concludes Thursday afternoon.