U.S. President Barack Obama departed late Sunday for Northern Ireland, to attend a G8 summit likely to be dominated by the U.S. decision to arm Syrian rebels.
The summit on Monday and Tuesday at an Irish resort will bring together leaders of the world's top economies.
Mr. Obama plans to meet there with Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks on the Syrian conflict. The Russian leader has supported the government of embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
On Sunday, Mr. Putin said countries must not arm fighters who eat human flesh, a reference to a video that emerged last month of a rebel appearing to eat the organ of a dead Syrian soldier.
The G8 summit also will focus on boosting the world's sluggish economies.
The G8 countries -- England, France, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, Russia and the United States -- account for 50 percent of the world's economic output. But to varying degrees they have struggled to emerge from the depths of the recession in 2008 and 2009.
The White House said last week that President Obama intends to brief the other seven leaders at the summit about the U.S. plan to arm Syrian rebels. The U.S. decided last week to send weapons to the rebels, declaring it had evidence that Mr. Assad's forces have used chemical weapons.
The White House also said Mr. Obama will speak about his continuing support for the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance of telephone records of U.S. citizens and the monitoring of foreign nationals' use of the Internet.