Global economy dominates G8 talks at Camp David | News | DW | 19.05.2012
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Global economy dominates G8 talks at Camp David

US President Barack Obama is hosting G8 leaders at Camp David, with concerns over Greece and the eurozone topping the agenda. The global economy also dominates the formal weekend talks.

The summit of leaders of the world's eight leading industrialized nations continued at Camp David, US President Barack Obama's weekend retreat outside of the US capital of Washington, on Saturday.

The European sovereign debt crisis, a weak global economy and high oil prices overshadowed discussions. After a morning meeting, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there was "a growing sense of urgency that action needs to be taken."

"We are addressing here the two biggest threats to all our economies and that is of course the eurozone crisis but also the very high oil prices that translate into high prices at the pumps and we are making progress on both," he told reporters.

He agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "growth and austerity aren't alternatives," suggesting that measures for economic stimulus as well as austerities had to come together.

President Barack Obama, left, listens to British Prime Minister David Cameron during the first meeting of the G8 summit

Cameron: Austerity and growth do mix

The ongoing bloodshed in Syria and Iran's suspected nuclear program also feature in the talks, ahead of negotiations between global powers and Iran in Baghdad later this month.

Obama said that the group was "unified when it comes to our approach with Iran." He also said that G8 leaders decided that sanctions will continue alongside further negotiations.

On Syria, Obama said that leaders agreed that the political process in Syria should move forward "in a more timely fashion."

"We had a discussion about Syria, we all believe that a peaceful resolution and a political transition in Syria is preferable," he said.

Growth over austerity

On Friday, Obama joined the growing chorus of world leaders who are calling for a shift toward growth policies to tackle the eurozone crisis.

"We're looking forward to a fruitful discussion later this evening and tomorrow with the other G8 leaders about how we can manage a responsible approach to fiscal consolidation that is coupled with a strong growth agenda," Obama said.

His comments came after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in the US capital.

Hollande was making his first appearance at a major international conference just days after being sworn in as French head of state.

The French president used the meeting at the White House to express his concern about the situation in Greece and his view that economic growth must be made the top priority if Europe is to recover.

"We share the same views; the fact that Greece must stay in the eurozone and that all of us must do what we can to that effect," Hollande said.

Obama's support of Hollande's view on this issue could create some difficulty for Chancellor Merkel who has repeatedly insisted that strict fiscal discipline is the key to any recipe for economic recovery. While she has conceded that economic growth is also needed, this, she argues, should not be achieved through taking on more debt.

Leaving Afghanistan early

Hollande also told Obama that he would pull out all French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, as he had pledged during his election campaign. At the same time, however, he said France would continue to support its NATO allies in Afghanistan.

"Our support will take a different format. I'm pretty sure I will find the right means so that our allies can continue with their mission, and, at the same time, I can comply with the promise I made to the French people," Hollande said.

In addition to Germany, the US and France, the G8 also includes Canada, Britain, Japan, Italy and Russia.

Following the G8 summit, Chancellor Merkel and most of the other leaders will fly to Chicago for the two-day NATO summit, which begins on Sunday.

ng,ccp,pfd/ipj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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