Obama Confers With World Leaders In Italy

President Barack Obama is embarking on three days of multinational talks about climate change, the global economy and world hunger in the second and most policy-laden stop of his three-nation, weeklong trip.

The meetings to begin Wednesday in Italy may lack the intrigue of Obama's sit-downs with Russia's top leaders earlier this week or the emotion of the reception that the first black American president is likely to receive in Ghana on Saturday. But they won't lack for ambition, on the surface at least, as the world's most powerful officials address problems that threaten the planet.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters arrived in Rome Wednesday morning. He and the leaders of seven other industrialized nations will meet at L'Aquila near Rome before they widen their circle to include fast-growing countries like China and India, and struggling nations from Africa. In large and small groups, the talks will involve trade, Iran's nuclear ambitions, food security and other issues.

Topping the list are discussions of possible ways to slow the release of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Many foreign leaders want the United States to embrace a target of limiting the rise in average planetary temperatures to the 3.6 degree (2 degrees Celsius) level that characterized the preindustrial era in 1900. Scientists say an increase beyond that could trigger dangerous rises in sea level and other dire problems.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined Wednesday to say whether the administration would endorse the goal. But he suggested that the administration is putting its political emphasis on what it can accomplish back home with Congress, not with the Group of Eight (or G-8) at an international summit.

"I would say that I think our biggest contribution to this is the steps that were taken by the House," Gibbs said, referring to legislation requiring reductions in greenhouse gases.

Asked how Obama would define success at this summit on the issue of climate change, Gibbs said: "I think in many ways success for us is going to be getting something through Congress and to his desk that puts in place a system, market-based system, that lessens the amount of greenhouse gases in the air."

Setting goals and achieving them, of course, are different things, and G-8 meetings often are known more for high-minded roundtables and photo opportunities than for concrete results. Even before Obama left Washington, his aides tamped down expectations of breakthroughs at L'Aquila.

On the economy, "This will be more about exchanging views at this midpoint between the two G-20 summits than an opportunity to produce a series of specific deliverables, as you would call them," presidential adviser Mike Froman told reporters, referring to an expanded group of world leaders that generally meets in April.

Obama made a major speech in Moscow and planned another for Ghana, but not one in Italy. Barring a breakthrough on climate change, or perhaps new sanctions against Iran, the emotional highlight of Obama's Italy trip may be his audience Friday with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

Before that, Obama will meet individually with Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The three-day summit will involve ever-growing numbers of nations beyond the G-8, whose members are the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan. Various meetings will include representatives of Egypt, Turkey, Mexico and several other nations.

Steven Schrage, a business scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the G-8 sometimes struggles for a clear-cut identity and purpose. The best title for this week's meeting, he said, might be "G-question mark."

"It's going to start with the traditional G-8," Schrage said, "but then rapidly accelerate into a kind of crescendo of different nations, going up to 39 nations that will span much of the globe."

The most intensive discussions of climate change may occur Friday, when Obama hosts a discussion on the topic. He also will hold a news conference Friday before flying to Ghana in the evening.

Security will be heavy in L'Aquila, which was ravaged by an earthquake on April 6. Officials have prepared emergency airlifts of the world leaders in case another strong tremor hits.

The April earthquake leveled entire blocks in L'Aquila and the surrounding Abruzzo region, driving some 54,000 from their homes and killing 296 people. Berlusconi decided to move the summit from a posh Sardinian island to L'Aquila in a show of support for the stricken population.

Italy is deploying thousands of police officers as it seeks to avoid the violence that marred the last G-8 summit held in this country, when one protester was killed and more than 200 were injured in Genoa in 2001.

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  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Jul 12, 2009 at 02:02 AM
    Pimpin' aint easy. obuma just makes it look that way.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Jul 8, 2009 at 08:55 PM
    Barlow, you live in NC right? Well, go to average temperatures for our state on the internet. We are suffering global cooling like many states. Facts are facts my friend/foe. Scientist, the real ones, say it doesn't exist that we are going through a cycle. Bob is right. This is made up for those like Al Gore to make money. He is head of a lobby representing "windmills" and "solar". Do you see the connection? Are you so gullible to believe everything on the internet is true? Come on...you cannot be that naive. Even you link you posted smells of special interrest. Its about money in someone elses pocket and it ain't your pocket. Its out of your pocket. Brother, you have no idea what all of this will cost you. You will, its coming. I only hope you can keep your job. Bob, how much of that change did you get back in your tax return? Opps, that change is coming for next years, Obama return. He repealed the Bush tax cut. I best get used to eating dog food. Actually, cat food tastes like chickn
  • by Bob Location: Belhaven on Jul 8, 2009 at 03:30 PM
    Go back for 50 years and look at the different scares dealing with the climate that have been professed. The scares change about every 10 years from a new ICE age to global warming. This scare is nothing but a revenue stream for people like that failure Al Gore. It was recently reported that COWS produce more methane gas than almost anything, but the guberment decided it would be to costly for the farmers to contain it (I don't know how they could). Why isn't "the one" worrying and doing something about the United States economy, hunger etc. lets fix the U.S before we go globe hopping in Air Force one for fun! If your refridgerator is broken and your food is spoiling, you don't go to another state to fix the problem, you buy one or fix the one you have! I am truly amazed at "the one's" ability to ignore the problems at home and go off jet setting. This country has more pressing issues than a made up warming crisis. Please let the country survive until the next pres. election!!!
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Jul 8, 2009 at 11:19 AM
    The temperature variations on earth correlate perfectly with temperature variations on Jupiter according to scientists. Hubble has not recorded any jets, cars, trucks or flatulent cows on Jupiter. Think about it.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 8, 2009 at 11:11 AM
    They must think they are gods if they really think they can control the weather, especially a made up thing like global warming. Wonder how much it is costing the TAX PAYERS for Obama's family to go along and all the extra security?
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Jul 8, 2009 at 07:27 AM
    It MUST be me. I must be on another planet. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jan/09/exxon-wants-carbon-tax
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Jul 8, 2009 at 06:55 AM
    The big scream is to reduce CO2 emissions. CO2 is "required" for photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis there is no plant or animal life. This is elementary school material. Scientific statitics indicate that we are in a period of global cooling. Barlow: Yes, there is a problem. But, Gore has played upon the fear of people regarding the extent. It will be interesting to see how rich Mr. Gore gets from this. By the way, Mr. Gore leaves a rather larger carbon footprint when he flies to his "CO2 reduction revivals". Hypocrisy.
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on Jul 8, 2009 at 06:48 AM
    We can cut back all we want but until regulations take place in China and other developing nations, there will be no change to any global warming. We have been cutting back since the 70's and China has been increasing since then.The USA can not solve this "problem" alone.
  • by Ron Location: Merritt, NC on Jul 8, 2009 at 06:43 AM
    Global warming IS a scam!! Barlow, the whackos are not calling it global warming anymore, since low temperature records are being broken everywhere. Now they call it climate change. They claim that carbon dioxide is bad, but when I was a youngster, we were all taught that carbon dioxide was what the trees used to make oxygen, which is essential to all animal life, including humans! Oh, and by the way, Polar bear numbers are INCREASING!
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Jul 8, 2009 at 06:17 AM
    No Barlow, there are really many scientists who say your science is faulty. I can't believe you are still trying to win an arguement by acting as if your point of veiw is a forgone conclusion. Your arrogant snears at anyone who disagrees with you is not proof that you are right. Your analogy is silly. Nobody thinks breathing auto exhaust is good for you. Why don't you put your face down to the exhaust at the back end of a water buffalo and see if that methane gas is good for you. Water buffaloes and other animals have been farting for many, many years. Your science says these animals are destroying the earth. Get back there Barlow and breath deep, let me know how dangerous those gases are. I'm still waiting for that "ice age" that the scientists declared was a foregone conclusion back in the 70s. I vaguely remember something about an ice shelf in Kansas and people starving because of the shortened growing season by 2010. Breath Deeeeep Barlow!
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