Facebook Twitter

Protests rage as G-8 leaders defend goals

SHARE Protests rage as G-8 leaders defend goals

GENOA, Italy — Under siege, President Bush and other world leaders defended global trade and economic policies that sparked a second day of searing protests Saturday. Frustrated U.S. allies told Bush they would ratify a global-warming treaty, even without his participation.

Leaders of the world's seven wealthiest nations, plus Russia, plunged forward with a crowded foreign policy agenda that included the Middle East, the Korean peninsula and Macedonia.

They called violence in the Middle East "a grave danger" and voiced support for the use of monitors to oversee a yet-to-be-secured cease-fire. The leaders agreed to a Bush administration position that Israel and Palestinians must accept the concept, officials said.

Blocks away, in a haze of smoke and tear gas, police clashed with protesters marching against Western policies and globalization that demonstrators say hurt the poor. Passions were stoked when police shot and killed a young protester Friday. Sympathy demonstrations ignited across Europe and Canada.

"Assassins! Assassins!" shouted Genoa demonstrators in a crowd estimated at nearly 100,000. A minority of militant demonstrators broke away from the peaceful procession to assault police lines and set fires. At least 228 people were hurt in the clashes Saturday, including 73 police officers.

Sealed off from the crowd by miles of fence-and-concrete barricades, Bush condemned the violence and said democratically elected leaders had a right to meet.

"Those who claim to represent the voices of the poor aren't doing so," the president said during a picture-taking session with French President Jacques Chirac.

Said Chirac: "We have all been traumatized by the events."

In a joint statement, all eight leaders meeting safely behind the solid walls of a 13th century palace committed their nations to helping "the poorest parts of the world." They also expressed regret at the protester's death.

Bush said the summit had addressed the needs of the poor with an AIDS relief fund and economic policies that would spread prosperity. He increased the U.S. contribution to the fund by $100 million, bringing the total to $300 million.

Behind the scenes, there were whispers of scaling back or retooling the annual summit to avoid future clashes. Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero suggested the sessions might take another form, perhaps with more representation from poor countries and an education fund.

The leaders of the eight powers — Italy, France, Russia, Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States — decided late Saturday to drastically reduce the size of their delegations. The next meeting will be held at a resort in Alberta, Canada, said a spokesman for the Italian government. Organizers had sought a more remote site to curb access to protesters.

Next year's agenda will include initiatives to help African countries prosper.

On global warming, the leaders held spirited private conversations about the 1997 Kyoto climate change treaty rejected by Bush.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi urged his counterparts, including Bush, to work within the treaty's framework toward compromise.

As environmental ministers met in Germany in an attempt to rescue the treaty, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the rest of the industrialized world would press ahead without Bush if necessary. "We are ready to ratify," he said.

Standing alone, Bush said he shared their goals but showed no signs of wavering.

"The methodology in the Kyoto accord is something that would harm our nation's economy," Bush said in a photo opportunity with German leader Gerhard Schroeder, who favors the treaty.

Said European Union President Romano Prodi: "No progress has been made on the approval of the Kyoto protocol."

Bush has promised to work with allies on an alternative to the treaty's strict limit on emission of heat-trapping gases. The plan will be ready by October, he told them.

U.S. officials traveling with Bush said the plan likely will be based on assumptions that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be reduced through improved plant equipment and preserving farm and forest areas that absorb the gases.

It almost certainly will include a trading system in which one industry or company that exceeds emission caps could buy pollution "credits" from another with far less emissions, one official said.

The administration also is considering allowing companies to earn credits by buying forests or trapping carbon dioxide in abandoned coal mines, the official said.

In Bonn, Germany, negotiators made major progress on treaty talks after bowing to the White House on forest management and proposed emission caps. (See story on Page A4.)

The leaders' final communique, which must be endorsed by all sides, was being written broadly enough to accommodate Bush's opposition to Kyoto, officials said.

"We both agreed to reduce greenhouse gases and we both agree to continue dialogue," Bush said.

The document will be released today.

Addressing regional issues, the leaders issued a joint statement calling for an end to the violence in Macedonia. They said they support convening a conference on international financial assistance for rebuilding once a political agreement between Macedonian leaders and ethnic Albanians is reached.

They also encouraged efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

While talks were under way here, Bush's diplomats spread word Saturday that he opposed rules for a 26-year-old germ weapons treaty backed by much of Europe and Latin America. At the United Nations, 189 nations reached an agreement on a small-arms-trafficking initiative that was watered down at Bush's insistence.

One of the most contentious issues is Bush's push for a missile defense system. He will discuss the issue Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed frustration Saturday with the administration's willingness to scuttle an arms control treaty to build the system.

"If the ABM treaty doesn't suit the U.S., then for what reason? There's no concrete answer," Putin said.