News / Europe

Packed Agenda Faces G8 Leaders in France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech during an Interior and Justice Ministers of the G8 meeting on the fight against transatlantic cocaine trafficking, at the Elysee Palace in Paris,  May 9, 2011.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech during an Interior and Justice Ministers of the G8 meeting on the fight against transatlantic cocaine trafficking, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 9, 2011.


Henry Ridgwell

With uprisings heating up the Arab world and the world's economy uncertain, there will be plenty for world leaders to discuss at this week’s G8 meeting in France.  Differences over how to respond to these global challenges have the potential to cause disagreements among G8 leaders.

A packed agenda awaits world leaders as they make their way to the French seaside town of Deauville for the G8 summit. At the head of the list: the question of how the rest of the world should respond to the uprisings across the Arab world.

NATO is engaged in a bombing campaign against Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya, and there is concern in some countries that mission creep is taking hold.

Stephanie Rickard is an expert on international relations at the London School of Economics. "There will potentially be some conflict, particularly with Russia. Russia has already made clear that they don’t support what is going on in Libya, they don’t think that intervention is the way to go and so there’s potentially room for disagreement between Russia and some of the other G8 countries. But again that disagreement will probably take place behind closed doors," she said.

The violent suppression of uprisings in Syria and Bahrain will also feature high on the G8 agenda. Analysts say disagreement is likely over how the outside world should deal with the issue.

Visiting Britain ahead of the G8, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a clear warning to the Syrian leadership. "President Assad faces a choice: he can lead the transition to democracy that the Syrian people have demanded or he can as President Obama said on Thursday get out of the way, but there is no doubt that if he does not begin to lead that process, his regime will face continuing and increasing pressure and isolation," she said.

Pakistan will also face scrutiny at the meeting after the U.S. killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden earlier this month on Pakistani soil.

In addition, Western leaders have warned that the conflict in Afghanistan is in danger of being overshadowed by the so-called Arab spring.

Another regular topic at recent G8 meetings is Iran’s nuclear program. The European Union has renewed its sanctions against Tehran, accusing it of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said pressure on Iran must be maintained. "It is important not to forget, while so many things are happening and changing in the Middle East, that Iran continues with its nuclear program. We have called in the United Kingdom for many months for an intensification of peaceful pressure on Iran," he said.

The fallout from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant in Japan will also be discussed. G8 host France has called for new international safety standards for nuclear plants.

With Japan slipping back into recession and the debt crisis still haunting Europe, the world economy remains in a fragile state.

On top of that comes the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund, after he was charged with sexual assault in the U.S.

However, says Stephanie Rickard of the London School of Economics, those issues may be further down on the agenda. "It’s important to remember that the G8 in 2009 specifically said that the G20 is now going to be the forum for international economic issues. So the G8 has sort of delegated that to the G20 and now the G8 is focusing squarely on security and geopolitical issues," she said.

As this Normandy resort prepares for the G8 invasion, there will be little time for world leaders to enjoy the seaside surroundings.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs