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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July, 2005, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
Battle lines drawn inside summit fence
By Steve Schifferes
BBC News economics reporter at the G8 summit in Gleneagles

The front entrance of the Gleneagles Hotel
Amid intense security, only TV crews will get anywhere near the hotel

The Americans were first on the scene - they usually are.

The table at the information desk at the G8 media centre was covered with US government press releases praising George Bush's record on the environment and his bold leadership on Africa - even before the leaders or most of the press had arrived.

It is an early indication of what are likely to be the main sticking points in the summit, and the Americans wanted to get their rebuttal in first.

According to the White House press release, the US is committed to reducing "greenhouse gas intensity" - how much we emit per unit of economic activity - by 18% in 2005.

The White House was also distributing copies of its report on the US emergency plan for Aids relief in Africa entitled "Engendering Bold Leadership".

Spreading the message

At the other end of the political spectrum, the development campaigners - many of whom had arrived early after the demonstrations in Edinburgh over the weekend - were already distributing their press releases to the largely empty desks.

The paltry deal on the table at Gleneagles is an insult to poor people the world over
John Hilary, War on Want
The Make Poverty History campaign has scheduled its first press conference for Wednesday morning, and Save the Children's director general Mike Aaronson is due to meet the G8 leaders that afternoon after they are helicoptered in from Prestwick Airport.

Development campaign groups War on Want and the World Development Movement had put copies of their press releases on every journalist's desk - not an easy task in the vast workroom with more than 900 desks.

WHAT IS THE G8?
Name
Group of eight major industrialised states, inc Russia
Members
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, US
Aims
Originally set up to discuss trade and economic issues
Now leaders discuss global issues of the day
2005 Summit agenda
Africa
Climate change

War on Want says that the G8 leaders will fall well short of pledging the money needed to tackle global poverty.

They claim that $125bn, not $25bn, is needed in increased aid to meet development goals, and that the G8 will pledge only to reduce debt service, not abolish debts themselves.

"The paltry deal on the table at Gleneagles is an insult to poor people the world over," said John Hilary, director of campaigns and policy for War on Want.

So the battle lines are drawn, and the spin on the results has begun, even before the summit has started.

'Armed camp'

While most of the NGOs are lobbying inside the media centre, more radical groups are planning demonstrations - some of which may be aimed at disrupting the summit - outside the perimeter.

As a result, the summit site resembles an armed camp.

The security arrangments are extraordinary even by the standards of G8 summits.

All direct routes between the village of Auchteradar and the Gleneagles conference centre are cut off. Instead, the police are sending journalists five miles around on a one-track road to the media centre, located in large tents in the hotel's equestrian centre.

Most of the media are being bussed in daily from their hotels in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Three cordons of police checkpoints have to be crossed before reaching the massive security tent with its dozen security counters where passes are digitally scanned again.

Police checking van
All comings and goings near Gleneagles are closely monitored
And the interlocking set of media tents - a literal media circus - are some distance away from the Gleneagles Hotel and even the press briefing rooms.

Only the TV camera crews will be allowed anywhere near the hotel for the first dinner tomorrow evening hosted by the Queen.

As if in compensation, the sparsely furnished media centre is generously provided - at least on the opening day - with free fancy salads and wraps as well as tea, coffee and soft drinks - and even umbrellas.

There is even a small shop that sells photocopied pages of US and other foreign newspapers at 3 each.

Corporate sponsorship

Not to be outdone, the Scottish Tourist Board and various corporate sponsors - Ford, Diageo, and Sun - were also advertising their wares and products.

Indeed, corporate sponsorship seems to be another over-riding theme of this G8 summit.

Not only are the computers and catering sponsored, but so are some of the hoped-for results.

Gordon Brown, thwarted in his attempt to speed up aid flows to Africa by introducing a government-run International Financing Facility, has decided to team up with the Bill Gates foundation to introduce a mini-IFF to boost spending on health care in Africa.

And many of Mr Bush's initiatives also involve an enhanced role for the private sector, especially in the pharmaceutical sector.

Many in Africa would welcome more private investment.

But the terms of that investment are likely to be hotly contested - both at this summit and beyond.


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