Economic danger signs

L'AQUILA (Italy) - LEADERS of the world's industrialised powers warned on Wednesday that the global economy remains in danger and backed away from pledges on global warming as they started their annual summit.

The build-up to the Group of Eight gathering in L'Aquila, which was devastated by an earthquake less than 100 days ago, was overshadowed by turmoil in China which prompted President Hu Jintao to hurry back to Beijing.

Summit preparations were also marred by protests on the eve of the arrival of US President Barack Obama and about two dozen other heads of state and government. Italian police made around 40 arrests when demonstrators hurled bottles and set fire to tyres on the streets of Rome.

As talks started in a military barracks, it emerged that a draft summit declaration made no mention of a previous pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and there were few concrete measures to bolster the global economy.

The summit brought together leaders from the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy. But in a sign of the shifting balance of power, much of the discussion will be expanded to include emerging powers India, China, Brazil and South Africa.

While the focus is largely on the global economy, leaders will thrash out issues such as climate change, world trade and food security as well as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programmes.

It is the biggest international gathering since a landmark Group of 20 summit in April when one trillion dollars was committed to the International Monetary Fund and other global bodies to help struggling economies. -- AFP


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