G8 Summit To Discuss Economy, Arab Uprising
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
TEXT: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
Good morning, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY: Good morning, Mary Louise. Good to be with you.
LOUISE KELLY: Good to be with you, too. So the Obama administration, as we mentioned, is focused on the Middle East. They've been urging leaders of the other countries, there, to provide financial support for Egypt and Tunisia at this meeting. What's his argument?
HORSLEY: That's right, Mary Louise. You remember when he gave his big Middle East speech last week, President Obama said the popular uprisings in those countries are only partly about politics, they're also a sign of frustration with the lack of economic opportunity. The president pledged, on behalf of the U.S., several billion dollars worth of debt relief and loan guarantees for Egypt and Tunisia. And the U.S. is urging other G8 allies to do the same. He thinks that it can support the fledgling democracies in the Middle East, by addressing those economic woes. Mr. Obama got a powerful second for that idea, yesterday, when he met with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron called the Arab Spring, a once in a generation opportunity for world leaders to grab hold of.
MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: It is not a time for us to shrink back and think about our own issues and interests. This is our issue and this is massively in our interests. Those people in Tahrir Square and Tripoli just want what we have, a job and a voice. And we all share in their success or failure.
HORSLEY: There is some question, though, about just how generous the G8 countries are willing or able to be when many are wrestling economic challenges at home.
LOUISE KELLY: And you mentioned the president sat down with Prime Minister Cameron yesterday, that was in London. He's also holding one-on-one talks with leaders, today, on the sidelines of the summit in France. Who has he been talking to.
HORSLEY: The president tried - President Obama tried to provide some assurances there. They also talked about Russia's effort to join the WTO, that's something Russia's been pursuing for a long time. And aids say that they're very close, there's still some technical issues to work out, but the U.S. believes there's nothing fundamental blocking Russia from joining WTO later this year.
LOUISE KELLY: Big picture, Scott. Give us some context in terms of how important this summit is for the U.S.? This is the G8 which has been overshadowed a bit, in recent years, by the larger group of countries, the G20.
HORSLEY: In a way, this is another opportunity for President Obama to say, as he's been saying all week, that America's old European allies are still very important, even as he tries to build ties with newcomers around the globe.
LOUISE KELLY: OK, thanks very much, Scott.
HORSLEY: My pleasure, Mary Louise.
LOUISE KELLY: That's NPR's Scott Horsley, speaking with us from France. He's traveling with the president on his European tour. And the next stop, tomorrow, will be Poland.
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