Tue, Jun 18, 2013 - Page 1 News List

G8 summit begins, Syria tops agenda

Agencies, ENNISKILLEN, Northern ireland

Protesters masked as G8 leaders protest yesterday on the Big IF Flotilla close to the G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.

PHOTO: EPA

The biggest security operation in Northern Ireland’s history swung into action yesterday for the start of the G8 summit.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, the summit host, arrived on Sunday, and other leaders were flying into Belfast before catching helicopters to Lough Erne.

At the resort, campaigners launched two longboats flying sails emblazoned with the slogan “End Tax Dodging,” a reference to Cameron’s aim to make progress on curbing tax evasion at the talks.

The conflict in Syria was set to dominate the summit, with Russian President Vladimir Putin facing pressure to back away from supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Face-to-face talks between Putin and US President Barack Obama were set to be prickly, with the leaders now supporting opposing sides in the war.

Cameron will host Obama, Putin, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who represent just more than half of the US$71.7 trillion global economy.

The EU and US are due to announce the start of formal talks on a free-trade deal that could be worth more than US$100 billion a year to each economy.

Cameron may face some uncomfortable questions after leaked documents appeared to show that Britain spied on foreign delegates at the 2009 London G20 meetings.

Asked if he could guarantee his guests that no similar operation was in place at Lough Erne, Cameron said: “We never comment on security or intelligence issues and I am not about to start now.”

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