Paris - Group of 8 (G8) leaders will discuss aid for North
African states after recent popular uprisings and ways to end the conflict in
Libya at a summit starting on Thursday, but could get sidetracked by wrangling
over who should be the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief.
The G8 economic powers gather in the northern French resort
of Deauville on Thursday and Friday for talks on global issues, ranging from
the world economy to Iran's nuclear programme and Syria's crackdown on
The summit is expected to approve a multi-billion dollar aid
package for Tunisia and Egypt, whose authoritarian leaders have been ousted in
popular revolts, and seal an agreement to back other Arab states seeking
The failure so far of Western military action to halt the
conflict in Libya will also be high on the talks agenda.
Still, little real progress may be made if delegates are
distracted by the IMF leadership race sparked by the dramatic departure of
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is charged with sexually assaulting a New York
"They are likely to talk about it at the G8," said
a source at the IMF, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Any decision
will probably be taken among the G7 countries as the Brics (Brazil, Russia,
India, China and South Africa) seem unlikely to be able to unite behind a
The international lender has promised a merit-based process
to replace Strauss-Kahn, a French former finance minister, and has set a June
30 deadline to pick a successor.
While the IMF succession is not on the Deauville agenda, the
issue is dominating international politics, with Europe rallying around
France's Christine Lagarde as a candidate and emerging market nations keen to
push an alternative for a position held by a European since 1945.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and South Africa's Jacob Zuma,
one of 10 African leaders who will attend the Deauville summit, are likely to
defend the Brics stance.
Middle East push
US President Barack Obama will meet individually with
Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto
Kan during the summit. A week after outlining his vision for the Middle East,
Obama will likely push his ideas for reforms in the aftermath of the "Arab
The Egyptian and Tunisian prime ministers - who are seeking
$25bn and $12bn respectively in aid - are attending the summit. A special
session will flesh out an economic plan for them and a G8-Arab partnership for
"We have to act in the short term because democratic
movements could be hurt by increasing economic difficulties," French
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told parliament.
Key for regional stability will be to find a political
solution to the crisis in Libya, where three months of coalition air strikes
have failed to dislodge leader Muammar Gaddafi or cripple his army, which is
fighting ragtag rebel forces.
Arab League chairperson Amr Moussa and United Nations
secretary general Ban Ki-moon will both be in Deauville.
Russia, a critic of the Naro-led action in Libya, may push
its own ceasefire plan after last week welcoming Gaddafi envoys to Moscow for
talks and receiving Libyan rebels on Monday. France has said it wants Russia to
be part of a wider "friends of Libya" group to come up with a
"All aspects of the revolution in the Arab world will be
discussed and there will naturally be reflection and proposals for
action," a French presidential source said. "Libya will be discussed
because many of the countries involved in the G8 are involved in the military
The Deauville summit begins with a working lunch on Thursday
and wraps up on Friday afternoon.