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 Home > News & Policies > June 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 1, 2003

President Arrives at G8 Summit
Background Briefing on G8 Summit

     Fact sheet In Focus: G8 2003

12:14 P.M. (L)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is on background. As my colleague said, the President is looking forward to the G8 summit as an opportunity to promote further G8 cooperation on some key global priorities, including spurring global economic growth, combating terror, stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and progress on development issues, including poverty alleviation in the developing world.

The first day of the summit today, largely focused on the development issues. Today is the session with the extended outreach - about a dozen countries in addition to the G8. There will be two sessions. First, the opening lunch with that group of countries, as well as the G8, followed by a working session. And then this evening is a dinner just with the African countries that are part of the new partnership for African development, the so-called NEPAC countries.

I imagine that a range of issues is going to come up in those discussions, but the President is going to view it as an opportunity to talk about a number of initiatives that we've launched, the new compact for development that he called for about a year ago, that seeks to achieve real results in terms of poverty alleviation and economic growth by linking development assistance to sound policies; the Millennium Challenge initiative is the best example of that, which seeks to reward developing countries that rule justly, that invest in the health and education of their people, that promote economic freedom.

He's going to talk about his AIDS initiative, $15 billion over five years. He's going to encourage the other G8 to make a similar commitment. That was a tripling of the U.S. commitment on AIDS. He'll view it as an opportunity also to talk about famine relief - 38 million people in sub-Saharan Africa at risk of famine; serious food shortage, about 2 million metric tons of food shortfall. The United States is the largest contributor to the U.N. World Food Program. We contribute more than all other nations combined. This year we'll spend roughly $1.4 billion on famine relief, including this new $200 million famine fund that the President has called for, that will enable us to get emergency assistance more quickly at the first signs of famine.

We've called on the other developed country partners, the G8, to put in place their own similar rapid response funds.

He'll also have an opportunity, obviously, to talk about the importance of trade for generating growth in the developing world. He'll talk about the ambitious set of proposals we've put on the table in the Doha round of WTO talks.

So all of those issues we assume are going to come up; certainly an opportunity to encourage greater cooperation. As my colleague said, the agenda is to make the world safer and better. We have a very robust agenda to make the world better. We want to do it together with our G8 partners and others.

I was just going to talk briefly about the second day of the summit. The second day begins - is all G8 on the second day. The outreach countries will not be there on the second day. Morning session largely focused on the global economy, followed by a lunch largely focused on security issues and regional issues.

With respect to the security agenda, we expect to have the leaders endorse a series of initiatives - largely U.S. shaped initiatives on a variety of issues that are extremely important in terms of the war on terror. First, we hope to establish a counterterrorism action group, which will be a group of donor countries that will help prioritize and speed the delivery of counterterrorism training and assistance to countries with the will, but not the skill, to combat terror.

That counterterrorism action group will support the work of the counterterrorism committee in the U.N., in helping countries implement their obligations under U.N. Security Council 1373. We also hope that the leaders will endorse an action plan to control shoulder-launched missiles, so-called MNPAD, man portable air defense systems, that pose a threat to civil aviation.

We also expect them to endorse an initiative to better control radioactive sources in order to confront the threat of so-called dirty bombs. We also are going to receive a report on implementation of the global partnership to stop the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, the partnership launched at last year's summit in Kananaskis. WE have succeeded in broadening that partnership to a series of non-G8 countries: Norway, Poland, the Netherlands - a series of countries and have made progress in implementation of new initiatives in order to address the issue of proliferation.

Those, I think, are the major initiatives that we're going to be talking about on the security side. It is a group of initiatives taken as a whole which move the agenda forward in terms of G8 cooperation on counterterrorisim.

Obviously, the discussion on the economy is going to focus on what each of the G8 needs to do to spur growth in their own economies. The United States being virtually alone now as an engine of growth in the global economy. We've taken decisive action at home on fiscal and monetary policy. The President is going to be interested to hear what actions the other G8 are taking to spur growth in their own countries, remove obstacles to job creation and economic growth. And obviously talk about how we move the trade agenda forward.

Q The trade agenda is stalled, right? The trade agenda is stalled; are you going to do anything there?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as you know, several important deadlines in the Doha round of negotiations have been recently missed. There is this upcoming ministerial meeting in Cancun in September, the so-called midterm meeting. The leaders will try and give a push to the negotiations with a view toward making Cancun a constructive and successful meeting.

We've put on the table some very ambitious proposals in agriculture to eliminate export subsidies, to substantially reduce tariffs and domestic supports. IN goods, we've called for the elimination of tariffs by 2015. We're going to be encouraging everybody to put ambitious proposals on the table as a way of moving the round forward.

Q What's the motive, though, to make others start meeting those deadlines?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The motive has to be their own interest. It's the engine of growth in the global economy; it's in their own interest to put proposals on the table; everybody needs to contribute.

Q They apparently don't see it, though, since so many deadlines have been missed, particularly on agriculture.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know, the story of these negotiations is that they are - they move forward in lurches, and we remain hopeful that this one, too, will gather momentum as we go forward, and particularly into Cancun and beyond.

Q This counterterrorism action group, is that like a global SWAT team?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. It'll be a group of G8 countries, as well as some other donor countries, that provide counterterrorism training and assistance in key areas like terrorist finance, customs and border controls; issues regarding illegal arms trafficking. And, as I say, it's largely focused on countries with the will, but not the skill, not the capacity to combat terror. So it's really a counterterrorism capacity building initiative in a forum to get donors around a table and to help support the work of the U.N. Counterterrorism Committee in helping countries meet their obligations under U.N. Security Council resolution 1373.

END 12:22 P.M. (L)