Bush: Skipping Olympics Would Be An Insult

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP

(CBS/AP) Above all else, President Bush views his decision to attend the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics as an act of patriotism.

"I think it would be good for these athletes who have worked hard to see their President waving that flag," he said during a press conference today.

Were he to boycott the event, as several other world leaders have pledged to do in response to the Chinese government's crackdown on Tibetan protestors, Mr. Bush thinks the Chinese people might take offense, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

"The Chinese people are watching very carefully about the decisions by world leaders, and I happen to believe that not going to the opening ceremony for the games would be an affront to the Chinese people, which may make it more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership," the president said.

Mr. Bush is putting trade talks and aid to Africa high on his agenda Sunday for an upcoming summit of major economic powers that is also expected to focus on energy and climate change.

Mr. Bush met Sunday with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the first of many expected meetings between world leaders on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit that begins Monday on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

At a joint press conference Sunday with Fukuda, Mr. Bush told reporters he was disappointed by the U.S. economy: "Our economy is not growing as robustly as we'd like."

Mr. Bush continued calling for Congress to find a solution to the United States' dependency on foreign oil, by expanding offshore areas available for oil exploration, as well as opening up a protected Alaskan reserve to drilling, while promising that increasing production of fossil fuels will lead to more renewable energy sources.

"For seven years I've been trying to get the Congress to explore for oil domestically," he said. "Now is the time when they come back from their Fourth of July vacations to open up ANWR, open up the outer continental shift, so that we can say to the world that we will do our part in increasing supply, so we can transition from the period of reliance upon hydrocarbons to a new period of advanced technologies.

Climate Change A Key Topic

The three-day summit will also include meetings between the G-8 leaders and heads of several African countries and major developing nations including China, Brazil and India - a total of 22 leaders.

Host Japan has made climate change a key topic at the meeting, and many hope the G-8 will give some indication of its commitment to cutting greenhouse gases to move forward U.N.-led talks aimed at replacing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012. Negotiators face a deadline of December 2009, when some 190 nations will meet in Denmark.

Fukuda would like the summit to agree on a 50 percent overall reduction in greenhouse gases - blamed for global warming - by 2050. Some European countries and developing nations also want to set targets for cutting emissions by 2020. Scientists say those targets are needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

But Mr. Bush reiterated his position that rapidly developing nations also need to commit to emission-reduction standards. He said he was "realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don't share that same aspiration, that we're not going to solve the problem."

Mr. Bush also emphasized the urgency of providing aid for Africa. He called on wealthy nations to provide mosquito nets and other aid to prevent children from "needlessly dying from mosquito bites."

"I'm concerned about people going hungry. We'll be very constructive in the dialogue about the environment - I care about the environment - but today there's too much suffering in the continent of Africa," he said. "Now is the time for the comfortable nations to step up and do something about it."

In addition to food and energy, Mr. Bush said he hopes to spend time talking with other leaders about moving forward on the World Trade Organization talks, which have become stuck as rich and poor nations bicker over changes to their subsidies and trade taxes.

"This is an opportunity for us, Mr. Prime Minister, for us to promote free and fair trade," Mr. Bush said during the news conference with Fukuda. "The best way to help impoverished around the world is through trade."

Mr. Bush also expressed deep concern about Myanmar, or Burma, faulting the country's military regime for its "unwarranted" limited response to Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 80,000 people. He called on the junta to free detained democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

Protests Brew In Shadow Of G-8

The site of this year's G-8 summit is a heavily guarded luxury resort on a hilltop overlooking picturesque Lake Toya, formed in a crater left behind by a collapsed volcano.

Hundreds of protesters held a second day of demonstrations against the G-8 in Sapporo, about 65 miles northeast of Lake Toya and the closest protesters have gotten to the secluded summit venue.

Security kicked into high gear over the weekend, with riot police in body armor monitoring checkpoints along roads leading to the summit site through the rolling farmland.

Japan has mobilized roughly 20,000 police officers in Hokkaido to avert any terrorist attacks. The Yomiuri newspaper reported that F-15 fighter jets would patrol during the summit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G-8 leaders will discuss how they can toughen sanctions on Zimbabwe in the wake of President Robert Mugabe's widely denounced presidential election runoff victory.

"We will confer on how we can toughen sanctions against Zimbabwe, and I hope that we will also get support from our African colleagues here," Merkel said in her weekly video message.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, whom Zimbabwe's opposition has accused of favoring Mugabe, and Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua have been invited to meet with the G-8 leaders on Monday.

With global oil prices surging, the G-8 leaders are expected to urge major oil producers to increase supplies while also calling for steps to improve energy efficiency and develop alternative sources of energy within their own economies. Oil spiked to a record US$145.85 a barrel on Thursday.

However, observers have questioned the effectiveness of any calls by the G-8 to boost oil production when the group does not include Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of crude, or any OPEC members.

The G-8 consists of the U.S., Japan, Russia, France, Britain, Canada, Italy and Germany.

Likewise, there is growing criticism that the G-8 excludes major economies such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Leaders of those nations are to meet with the G-8 leaders on Wednesday.

For more information on the Group of 8 Summit visit their Web site: www.g8summit.go.jp.

© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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