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G8 leaders set to meet in N Ireland
June 17, 2013, 9:02 am


US President Barack Obama arrives at Aldergrove International airport in Belfast, Northern Ireland [AP]

Presidents and prime ministers of the G8 nations are to meet in Northern Ireland this week, with the ongoing conflict in Syria set to be a key talking point.

The United Kingdom holds the presidency of the Group Of Eight (G8) this year, and per practice has set the agenda, which will include mutual priorities on trade, transparency and taxes as well as issues of security.

However, the recent decision by the US to provide military aid to Syrian rebels will dominate discussions between the leaders of the G8 nations at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, on Monday and Tuesday.

European leaders are also expected to launch talks with US President Barack Obama at the summit for what may potentially become the world’s largest Free Trade Agreement.

President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold separate talks during the summit.

Moscow warned the Obama administration of another ‘Iraq mistake’ after promoting “unconvincing” data on Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use.

UK prime minister David Cameron met with President Putin on Sunday to discuss the situation in Syria, where Mr Cameron admitted that there was a “very big difference” between the Russian and British views of where to lay blame for the deteriorating Syrian crisis.

Both leaders did agree that the situation in Syria had become a humanitarian crisis, which has seen nearly 93,000 killed since the start of the conflict.

The G8 nations combined GDP last year accounted for half of the world’s wealth, concentrated in less than 15 per cent of the world’s population.

The British prime minister has said he wanted “a meeting where we can look each other in the eye, cut through the obstacles and the opposition and generate the political will to solve the problems we face.”

The G8 is made up of heads of government from France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Russia, Japan, the US and the UK.

With inputs from Agencies