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IN THE NEWS - July 28, 2001: Group of Eight Conference - 2001-07-31

This is Bob Doughty with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

Last week, the heads of government of the Group of Eight held a three-day meeting in Genoa, Italy. The members are the leading industrial nations --the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada--and also Russia.

The leaders met to discuss world trade and economic development. They also discussed disease prevention, debt reduction, and other issues. Officials from several developing countries including Nigeria, Mali, Bangladesh and El Salvador were invited to take part in the conference for the first time.

During the talks, about one-hundred-thousand protesters demonstrated outside the historic palace in Genoa where the meeting was held. They gathered there to express their anger about world trade.

One person was killed during the protests. The Italian Interior Ministry says the demonstrator was shot in an act of self-defense by a member of Italy’s national police force.

Many protesters condemned the deadly use of force by the Italian police. The Group of Eight leaders expressed sorrow for the death and urged demonstrators to reject violence.

The protesters represented trade unions, environmental groups, farmers, and the unemployed. Most shared a concern about the effects of international trade. Many of the protesters believe world trade harms the people of poor countries. They say major international companies are becoming wealthy while harming the poor and the environment.

Opponents of world trade want wealthy nations to reduce debt in developing countries. They also called for better education in poor countries and more money to treat diseases in Africa.

The Group of Eight leaders said world trade helps all people. They promised to work to bring the poorest countries into the world economy. And they promised to continue to deal with issues important to all areas of the world.

The leaders also discussed the worldwide AIDS crisis and other deadly diseases. They agreed to provide more than one-thousand-million dollars to support efforts to prevent and treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. These preventable diseases kill millions of people each year. Most of the victims live in poor countries.

One of the most disputed issues at the G-Eight meeting was the Kyoto treaty to halt the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. President Bush continues to reject the treaty. He says it would harm the American economy. Other leaders said they would work to put the treaty into effect.

At the end of the conference, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced they would hold new arms talks. They said they want to link talks about reducing nuclear weapons with American plans to build a missile defense system.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Bob Doughty.