G-8 takes on conciliatory tone
EVIAN, France (CNN) -- Leaders of the world richest countries attempted to play down their differences Monday and focus on the issues of the global economy and international terrorism.
As violence flared among anti-globalization protesters who were kept well way from the G-8 summit, U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac took a conciliatory tone in an effort to patch up their own dispute over the war in Iraq.
The pair met privately for 25 minutes Monday at the French resort town of Evian, as thousands of anti-globalization protesters demonstrated for a second day on both sides of the French-Swiss border. (Full story)
After their meeting, a senior U.S. official quoted Bush as telling Chirac "it is time to move on." (Full story)
In the weeks before the Iraq war, U.S. officials publicly lashed out at French leadership for trying to counteract the U.S. effort to win support for military action.
It was not clear whether Bush would spend much time in Evian speaking with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose staunch opposition to the war was also the subject of public U.S. criticism.
For Bush, attempting to warm up the U.S.-French relationship was one of the biggest challenges of his week-long, six-nation trip.
But both Bush and Chirac said before the summit that they also wanted to focus on the future and the goals they share, including curbing the spread of AIDS in Africa, and combating famine and poverty in poor countries.
The first day of talks focused on an issue confronting all those attending -- helping solve the economic woes of developing nations. (Full story)
G-8 nations are also expected to discuss the dangers of weapons of mass destruction during day two of the summit -- an issue that has become a sore point for the U.S. and Britain as the search for weapons has so far failed to turn up any concrete evidence of their existence.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday he stands "absolutely 100 percent" behind intelligence on weapons of mass destruction published before the war in Iraq.
Blair, speaking at a news conference in Evian, called accusations that intelligence information had been doctored "completely absurd." (Full story)
He urged the public to be patient as the search for weapons continues.
Meanwhile, in a separate meeting Sunday, Bush met with China's new President, Hu Jintao, to discuss North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program.
North Korea reportedly used Hu to convey a message requesting bilateral talks between the U.S. and Pyongyang on the program, a request which Washington rejected.
Bush and Hu agreed that there was an urgent need for North Korea to rejoin the negotiating table, but that the talks must be multilateral, Reuters has reported. (Full story)
Before arriving in France Sunday, Bush held a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.
Both men said though the U.S.-Russian relationship might have been tested by the dispute over Iraq, it remains strong. (Full story)
Bush leaves the summit Monday afternoon for Egypt, where he plans to meet with Arab leaders. Bush said he will call on them to crack down on terrorism in the Arab world and to support his initiative for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Bush will then travel to Jordan for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
-- CNN White House correspondents John King and Dana Bash contributed to this report.