Group of Eight Meeting

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

Leaders from the Group of Eight nations begin their yearly meeting Wednesday in the western Canadian province of Alberta. They will gather for two days in the Kananaskis mountain area. Experts say President Bush will be seeking strong support for his war on terrorism.

The G-Eight leaders will also discuss increasing aid for African development. And they are expected to discuss ways to strengthen international economic growth and support development that is environmentally safe.

The members of the Group of Eight are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. The European Commission President will take part in the meeting as an observer. So will the President of Spain, the country currently filling the European Union presidency.

The G-Eight is an organization of the world's leading industrial nations. The group's main goals are to support economic growth, reduce poverty and increase peace and security around the world.

The Chairman of the Group of Eight changes each year among members. The yearly leaders' meeting is held in the country of the Chairman. The meeting gives heads of governments a chance to hold direct talks about current major issues

The Chairman serves as a communication link for the Group of Eight with other nations as well as non-governmental organizations. This year the G-Eight chairman is Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. He has invited four African leaders to the meeting to discuss details of a document called the New Partnership for African Development.

As is traditional, Canada has held several smaller meetings in preparation for the leaders' conference. Last week, finance ministers of seven of the group of eight nations met in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Russia is not officially part of the G-Seven finance ministers meetings.

The G-Seven finance ministers meet four times a year. At the recent meeting, some finance ministers criticized American Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill for trade decisions by the United States.

The main dispute is over American government assistance to farmers. Canadian Finance Minister John Manley argued that farm support in the United States makes it difficult for developing countries to compete in the agriculture industry.

Security is a concern for the leaders' meeting next week. Demonstrations took place at the G-Seven finance ministers' meeting in Halifax. Protesters and police fought on the last day. At the G-Eight meeting last year, about one-hundred-thousand protesters demonstrated in Genoa, Italy. One person was killed.

A security area of about six kilometers will surround the meeting next week of the leaders of the Group of Eight. The public will not be permitted into this area.

This VOA Special English program was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English

Source: IN THE NEWS – June 22, 2002: Group of Eight Meeting
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