The G8 summit begins in Germany today and security is tight around the Baltic resort town of Heiligendamm. G8 leaders will discuss foreign policy issues including Iran's nuclear programme, Middle East peace, Sudan and Kosovo.
The German hosts are also aiming to secure new G8 pledges on development aid and Aids funding for Africa.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators are expected to rally in Rostock throughout this week against the policies of the G8 industrialised nations.
Protesters have filed an appeal against measures to bar them from getting close to the G8 venue, which is surrounded by a 12km steel and concrete fence topped with barbed wire. Yesterday, about 400 protesters with anti-G8 signs tried to block one of the road exits from Rostock airport shortly before George W. Bush, the US president, landed.
The meeting of leaders from Britain, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States ends on Friday, sabcnews.com reports.
President George W. Bush will be met by anti-globalization protesters today when he flies in to Germany's northern port city of Rostock for the June 6-8 Group of Eight summit in nearby Heiligendamm.
Protesters plan to gather at 5 p.m. local time at Weitendorf, outside Rostock-Laage airport, to decry Bush's military policy, organizers said in an e-mailed release today. Bush arrives less than 24 hours after police in Rostock arrested 66 rioting demonstrators.
“Our presence will show the U.S. president that he's not welcome here,'' protest organizer Hans-Peter Kartenberg said in the release.
The group said it plans to blockade the airport tomorrow as other leaders arrive. In Heiligendamm, which has been sealed off by a 12 kilometer-long (7.5 mile) barbed-wire fence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host world leaders including Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the new French leader, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Their point of arrival at Rostock airport is used to train Eurofighter jet pilots and so is linked to war policy, according to Kartenberg. “The wars of the G-8 states are being prepared at Rostock-Laage airport,” he said in the statement, Bloomberg reports.
The German government has spared no expense -- spending upward of $100 million -- to safeguard this week's summit, which brings together leaders of the industrial countries known as the Group of Eight. German authorities have taken an offensive-minded approach, using a variety of tactics that critics say conjure bad memories of the country's totalitarian past.
For instance, police and prosecutors have surreptitiously acquired scent samples of some protest organizers to make it easier for police dogs to locate them in a crowd, authorities have acknowledged. The technique was pioneered by the Stasi, the East German secret police.
In the days leading up to the summit, some German officials called for preemptive arrests of G-8 opponents in case they were planning to cause trouble. Although the government backed away from that approach, it has taken a hard line against allowing public demonstrations within a four-mile radius of the summit's location.
German authorities have defended the aggressive stance as necessary to avoid chaos, as well as national embarrassment. They pointed out that more than 500 police officers were reported injured in clashes with anti-globalization demonstrators over the weekend in the nearby port city of Rostock. A nearly equal number of protesters were also reportedly hurt. Each side blamed the other for starting the fights, The Washington Post reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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