Chancellor Angela Merkel flew into the US for a weekend of summit meetings, as the eurozone debt crisis threatens to escalate due to political instability in Greece and market uncertainty in Spain.
US President Barack Obama on Friday welcomes German, French, British, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Canadian and EU leaders for a working Group of Eight dinner at Camp David, Maryland.
White House officials have stressed the "back-to-basics" nature of the summit as a chance for the leaders to come together and hold more informal discussions at the presidential retreat outside Washington.
Issues to be discussed include the eurozone financial crisis, the continuing violence in Syria, the nuclear talks with Iran, the situation in North Korea and the democratic progress in Myanmar.
New anti-hunger initiative
However, US President Barack Obama on Friday said it was also important to focus on the challenge facing “some 1 billion men, women and children around the world - the injustice of chronic hunger, the need for long-term food security." Obama unveiled a public-private partnership designed to fight hunger in Africa in which 45 global and African companies would commit $3 billion (2.35 billion euros) to bolstering agriculture in Africa.
Obama insisted that the initiative, which he called the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, was not a substitute for aid. G8 leaders will hold a special session on food security Saturday at the Camp David summit.
Evidently, the eurozone's financial concerns are high on the European leaders' agenda.
Economic woes to top agenda
On Thursday, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso held a video conference with the European G8 leaders – Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and British Prime Minister David Cameron - to "coordinate positions." For Hollande and Monti this is the first G8 meeting.
"The United States has an extraordinarily significant stake in the outcome of the economic discussions in Europe and the steps that are taken in Europe," said National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
Ahead of the dinner President Obama met with President Hollande at the White House. Hollande then went to the British Embassy for his first meeting with Prime Minister Cameron. Chancellor Merkel flew in from Frankfurt directly for the Camp David dinner.
Another issue due to make waves at Camp David is a proposal that US President Barack Obama is expected to bring forward amid his bid for reelection - a release of global oil reserves to help drive down fuel prices, which remain a concern for US consumers despite a recent dip in the average petrol price nationwide.
On Saturday evening, Chancellor Merkel continues on to Chicago to take her place among the 60 state and government leaders for the NATO summit. The agenda for the two day meeting Sunday and Monday includes discussion on the situation in Afghanistan and the European missile defense system.
jm/slk (dpa, Reuters, AP)