G8 summit continues with major issues overshadowed by terrorist attacks

G8 summit continued Friday as world leaders condemned the violent terror attacks in London. The leaders are to focus upon a major aid package for Africa and a deal on climate change, despite continued bickering between the United States and its allies over global warming.

The leaders managed to stick to their agenda even though British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the summit host, had rushed back to his capital to calm a nation shocked by the worst attacks on London since World War II. Blair returned to the summit later Thursday, reports the AP.

A series of declarations scheduled to be issued as the Group of Eight summit drew to a close will pledge to double assistance to reduce poverty and fight disease in Africa, the world's poorest continent.

Less progress was made on Blair's other summit goal - getting the United States on board to make major reductions in emissions of the gases that some have blamed for global warming.

The United States, the only G8 country that has not ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, has continued to reject Blair's calls for setting specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

G8 officials said Thursday that leaders had reached a basic agreement on global warming that recognizes it as a problem partly caused by human activity, but that fails to set targets or timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

French President Jacques Chirac said the agreement was "important, even if it doesn't go as far as I would have wanted it to."

"It restores dialogue between the seven (G8) Kyoto members and the United States," he said.

The compromise draft communique, said Chirac, has only a couple of references to Kyoto.

But he said it would acknowledge climate change as "a reality" and say "we have to act immediately" to combat the problem, reports AFP.

"We have noticed a shift in the American position," said Chirac, who described this as "a major step... towards an improvement."

"The discussions on climate change have gone very well," Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin agreed. "Considerable progress has been made."

The G8 would also launch "a dialogue" with emerging countries on transfers of clean-energy technology, AFP quoted Chirac as saying.

Talking about the bombings in London, Chirac said the attacks had been carried out by "savages" and spelt out France's "deep emotion, compassion and solidarity" with Britain, said the Group of Eight summit pressed ahead with its agenda, determined not to be sidetracked by the bombers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking part in G8 summit in Gleneagles condemned acts of terror in London.

Vladimir Putin said Thursday that terror attacks the world over demand universal condemnation and unity. Putin expressed Russia's condolences to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and said Russia was showing solidarity with Britain.

The string of attacks on London's transport system occurred just as the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States began formal talks at a hotel in Gleneagles.

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