The G8 summit of leaders of key world economies has started in Northern Ireland, but the conference is likely to be dominated by talks on the U.S. decision to arm Syrian rebels.
U.S. President Barack Obama is planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the G8 sidelines Monday to discuss his decision to provide weapons to the rebels in their two-fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is an action that Mr. Putin has vocally opposed.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, dressed casually without a coat or tie, greeted the seven other heads of state before they headed into a meeting on the world economy.
Earlier, Mr. Obama spoke in Belfast to a young audience, calling peace in Northern Ireland a "blueprint" for those living in conflict zones around the world.
Mr. Obama said, "The terms of peace may be negotiated by leaders, but the fate of peace is up to you."
The summit at the Northern Irish golf resort of Lough Erne also includes the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
The G8 countries account for 50 percent of the world's economic output. But to varying degrees, they have struggled to emerge from the depths of the global recession of 2008 and 2009.
White House officials said last week that President Obama intends to brief the other seven leaders at the summit about the U.S. plan to arm the 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.
((OPT SOUNDBITES IN ENGLISH:
1.) U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama --
"..And standing here with all of you today, I have never felt more optimistic, let me tell you. Because time and again, I have seen young people like all of you choosing to work together, choosing to lift each other up, choosing to leave behind the conflicts and prejudices of the past and create a bright future for us all."
2.) U.S. President Barack Obama --
"Beyond these shores - right now, in scattered corners of the world, there are people living in the grip of conflict, ethnic conflict, religious conflict, tribal conflicts - and they know something better is out there. And they are groping to find a way to discover how to move beyond the heavy hand of history. Put aside the violence. They are studying what you're doing, and wondering, perhaps if Northern Ireland can achieve peace we can too. So you are their blueprint to follow. You are their proof of what is possible. Because hope is contagious. They are watching to see what you do next."