G-8 summit disappoints many, but not Berlusconi
Italy's leader deemed the event a logistical 'miracle' after a last-minute change of venue. But critics decried lack of concrete progress on climate change, Iran, and trade.
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Statement on Iran, but no sanctions
There had been speculation that the leaders would impose sanctions on Iran for the post-election crackdown the government carried out, but in the end they only issued a statement in which they "deplored" the violence.
Leaders pledged $20 billion over three years – $5 billion more than had been expected – in farm aid to help poor nations feed themselves, with the US pushing for a shift away from food handouts and toward greater self sufficiency.
"The United States produces maize and some crops and sends it to people in famine, but the new conception is to produce these crops in Africa and not in the United States," said Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade.
It was not clear how much of the $20 billion was new funding and how much each country would give.
"Is this all really new money?" asked Otive Igbuzor of British charity ActionAid. "Given the G-8's record on delivery, this is still very much a work in progress."
ActionAid issued a score card on the G-8's achievements, awarding the summit 5/10 on food security but a dismal 1/10 on climate change and 0/10 on trade. On that front, the G-8 agreed to resist demands within their countries for protectionism and to conclude the Doha round of trade negotiations next year.
A logistical 'miracle'
While the outcomes of the G-8 were widely judged a disappointment, the actual organization of the event proved to be a triumph for host Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister.
Three months ago, L'Aquila was hit by a massive earthquake which killed 300 people, left around 50,000 homeless, and reduced the city's medieval centre to a rubble-strewn disaster zone.
Despite the area being hit by repeated aftershocks, Mr. Berlusconi made the controversial decision to shift the G-8 from its intended venue, an island off Sardinia, to L'Aquila to focus international attention on the city's plight.
In the end, Mr Berlusconi's extraordinary gamble – placing a meeting of the world's most powerful leaders in a disaster zone – paid off, with no major mishaps or the sort of antiglobalization violence that marred the 2001 G-8 in Genoa.
"We pulled off a miracle," the premier beamed at a press conference in front of the world's press.
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