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Leaders Prepare for G-8 Summit - 2002-06-25

The annual summit of the world's seven richest industrial countries plus Russia is set to begin Wednesday morning at Kananaskis, a small resort village in the Canadian Rockies 85 kilometers from Calgary, Alberta.

This Group of Eight summit is intended to be very different from the violence marred event that took place last year in Genoa, Italy. The Canadian host of this year's summit, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, picked a remote mountain location that can easily be sealed off from protests. There will be far fewer people in the national delegations than in the past, and the talks have been scaled back to 30 hours.

The G8, as it is called, is in effect an informal discussion forum for leaders of the world's biggest economies. The annual meeting, which initially focused almost solely on economic matters, has taken place each year since 1975. G8 members include Canada and the United States from North America, Japan from Asia, and Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Russia from Europe.

This year's summit will focus on economic development in Africa. Three African leaders (from South Africa, Algeria, and Nigeria) will participate in the second day of the summit where they will unveil an Action Plan for African development. Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, will also take part.

The summit will also focus on the war against terrorism, and a strong statement showing a unified stance on terrorism is expected to be released on Wednesday.

The leaders will meet as a group in formal meetings and individually in bi-lateral discussions. The Kananskis resort itself has been declared off limits to the general public.