Heads of world's richest nations gather in Deauville for start of G8 summit
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The leaders of the world’s most powerful nations are gathered in the northern French resort of Deauville for a two-day G8 summit set to discuss democratic revolutions throughout the Arab world, the Japanese nuclear disaster and the Middle East peace process.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was the first leader to be welcomed by his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy. Leaders from other G8 nations at the talks include those from Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.
The summit is expected to open with an expression of solidarity with Japan by G8 chiefs following the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant and a debate on how to improve global nuclear safety.
This G8 summit of the world’s richest nations is the first international opportunity to discuss the events of the “Arab Spring” sweeping through the Arab world. Ahead of Thursday’s talks, US President Barack Obama called on his fellow leaders to help ensure the success of post-revolt political transitions in north Africa and the Middle East.
"It will be years before these revolutions reach their conclusion and there will be difficult days along the way, " he said. "Power rarely gives up without a fight."
Washington wants its G8 partners to help Egypt convert its debts into investments for jobs to boost the country’s flagging economy.
Leaders from Tunisia and Egypt and the head of the Arab League will also be at Deauville for talks on a massive aid plan to help their transition to democracy.
Africa will be represented at the summit by newly elected leaders from the Ivory Coast, Niger and Guinea who will participate in sessions devoted to encouraging democracy.
Two other key issues will be tackled at the meeting - the options for relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and achieving a consensus on choosing a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund.
European G8 members seem to be lining up behind French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as his replacement.
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