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G8 Leaders Summit Opens In Toyako, Northern Japan

[SEE ALSO: G8 LEADERS SUMMIT 2008 - SCOOP FULL COVERAGE]

G-8 Summit Opens in Japan

Venue for Group of eight Hokkaido Toyako summit meeting at Windsor Hotel Toya in Toyako, northern Japan

The annual Group of Eight summit, bringing together the leaders of the world's leading industrialized nations, has officially opened on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda Monday welcomed the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States.

The first order of business is a working lunch with leaders from several African countries to discuss efforts to alleviate poverty on the continent.

Before the official start of the summit, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso proposed creating a fund to help farmers in developing countries, specifically Africa.

Barroso said the money - about $1.6 billion - would come from unused European Union farm subsidies. The fund will require the approval of EU members.

U.S. President George Bush also met his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, before the G-8 talks officially got under way. The two leaders discussed trade, U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Europe and other issues.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun that he expects the G-8 to address the food crisis by urging more countries to lift restrictions on food exports. Such a move would give needy countries access to the surplus food of richer nations.

Mr. Bush said Sunday the G-8 cannot solve the global warming problem unless China and India agree to limit greenhouse gas emissions, along with rich nations.

White House officials say the G-8 leaders are also likely to strongly condemn Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, and to question the legitimacy of his government, following a runoff election in which Mr. Mugabe was the only candidate.

The three-day summit ends Wednesday with a larger gathering that includes Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa.

ENDS

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