The G8 summit opens in Italy with
leaders of the world's most powerful economies meeting on issues including the
global recession, regional security, Iran, world hunger, and aid to developing
World leaders have arrived in this medieval town
in central Italy and one of the orders of business was to take note of the
summit venue - an area stricken by a powerful earthquake just three months ago
and still suffering from widespread devastation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the village of Onna,
which was almost completely leveled by the quake. U.S. President Barack Obama
was visiting the center of L'Aquila, also heavily damaged and still off limits
even to local residents because it remains unsafe.
Nearly 300 people were killed in the earthquake and tens of
thousands made homeless. The area is still experiencing frequent aftershocks.
Italian authorities say they are confident the world leaders here will be safe,
but they note there is an emergency plan in place should the need
During the summit talks, the
global economic crisis is high on the agenda.
U.N. officials and aid
agencies say related issues - global hunger, food security and development aid
need urgent attention.
A recent report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization shows a marked increase in hunger and malnutrition worldwide. FAO
chief Jacques Diouf tells VOA that must be addressed.
"This report shows
that because of the economic and financial crisis the number of hungry people
has increased by 105 million in 2009," said Diouf.
The FAO report says
more than one-billion people are now going hungry and suffering from
malnutrition. Jacques Diouf says G8 leaders should live up to their previous aid
"They allocate 17 percent of official development
assistance to agriculture - not in one year, it will take time," he
Aid agencies have criticized some G8 nations, summit host Italy
among them, for not living up to aid pledges they have made in the
Other issues for discussion in L'Aquila include climate change,
regional security and Iran.
China's President Hu Jintao is not attending
the summit. He cut short his visit to return home because of ethnic unrest in
the Xinjiang province of northwest China.