Leaders of G8 Nations to Dine with Queen President Bush joins other G8 leaders at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland for their annual summit. The formal talks begin Thursday, but Wednesday, the leaders dine with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
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Leaders of G8 Nations to Dine with Queen

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Leaders of G8 Nations to Dine with Queen

Leaders of G8 Nations to Dine with Queen

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Away from the demonstrators and the tumult, President Bush has joined the other world leaders inside the Gleneagles resort, the site of the G8 Summit. The president and his colleagues had dinner with Queen Elizabeth II tonight. Tomorrow morning they begin two days of formal talks. NPR's Jim Zarroli is at Gleneagles with the president.

Jim, were the G8 leaders there at the hotel able to hear the demonstrations we just heard about?

JIM ZARROLI reporting:

Well, if they were, it's because they were watching them on TV. Basically, this is a big Georgian-style luxury hotel, where people go to play golf, and it's very secure, closed off. And, really, about the only violent incident on the grounds today was when President Bush was out riding his bicycle and collided with a Scottish police officer. He is, by the way, fine. He had a few scrapes on his hands. But, basically, the work of the summit itself is going on uninterrupted.

NORRIS: The host of the summit is British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and he's put aid to Africa high on the agenda for this meeting. What does he hope to accomplish?

ZARROLI: Yeah. Blair has focused on two issues: One of them is global warming; the other, as you say, is aid to Africa. He's spoken very eloquently about the plight of Africa. He calls it a `scar on the conscience of the world.' He wants the rich, industrialized countries to double the amount of aid they give Africa by the end of the decade and, also, to devote 7/10ths of a percentage point of their gross domestic product to aid for all countries by the middle of the next decade. So it is, it's a very ambitious agenda. It's not clear how much of it he's going to accomplish.

NORRIS: One of the specific issues for Africa are the subsidies that Western nations give the farmers and the way that those subsidies affect Africa's attempt to build export markets. How does President Bush and other leaders at the summit plan to deal with that?

ZARROLI: Yeah. The African leaders have been saying for a while that if the big, rich countries really want to help them help themselves, that they would eliminate the agricultural subsidies, which would allow them to compete, help them build the kind of export markets that they really need if they're gong to grow. This is, obviously, a very tough sell politically in many countries, including the United States. President Bush has said he's willing to do this in the context of sort of much broader trade liberalization talks, which basically means, you know, he'll eliminate subsidies if France and the rest of Europe do so, too.

NORRIS: Speaking of President Bush, what are his goals for this summit? What does he hope to accomplish?

ZARROLI: Well, last year the United States sponsored the G8 Summit off the coast of Georgia, you may remember, and one of the issues that he talked about was debt relief to Iraq. This year the G8 leaders are going to release some kind of paper supporting the government of Iraq, supporting the constitution drafting process. The United States has been pushing for that.

But, of course, any sort of support for Iraq is going to be especially complicated because the war remains very unpopular in many places. You could see that this morning in Denmark. Before the president left for Gleneagles, he appeared alongside the Danish prime minister. Denmark has 500 soldiers in the coalition. The president went to Denmark, in part, because he considers it a very loyal ally. But when he met with the Danish prime minister, Prime Minister Rasmussen apparently expressed a lot of concern about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. So rebuilding Iraq is going to be sort of a tough sell for the president.

NORRIS: Jim, before we let you go, I understand it's President Bush's 59th birthday today. How did they mark that occasion?

ZARROLI: Well, it is. He had a big cake served to him in Denmark today at a luncheon that was hosted by the queen, Queen Margreth of Denmark. Later on there was a dinner with Queen Elizabeth. So you could say this is a day in which he had lunch with one queen and dinner with another queen.

NORRIS: Thank you, Jim.

ZARROLI: You're welcome.

NORRIS: NPR's Jim Zarroli speaking to us from the site of the G8 Summit in Scotland.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): There's a rundown of the key players at the G8 Summit and where they stand on key issues at our Web site, npr.org.

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