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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
What did Evian achieve?

By James Coomarasamy
BBC correspondent in Evian

Clockwise: World Bank President James Wolfensohn, South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Swiss Federal President Pascal Couchepin
Smiles, but nothing of substance for African leaders
Even by the standards of these grand summits, the Evian G8 meeting had very limited goals.

It was, nominally, a chance for the world's leading industrialised nations to get to grips with the huge problems facing the African continent and the global economy.

But the actual, if unstated aim, was for the prime ministers and presidents to show they could behave in a civil manner to each other, after the public rifts over Iraq.

This goal was duly achieved.

After Monday's awkward, ice-breaking handshake between presidents Jacques Chirac and George W Bush, the two most-likely-to-scrap leaders are said to have had a "cordial" meeting on Monday.

Rogues warned

It was not exactly the US-Russian love-in Mr Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin conjured up in St Petersburg at the weekend, but the rancour was gone - for the time being, at least.

The two men agreed to disagree on the war in Iraq, focusing instead on the future.

Mr Bush will be pleased that the most eye-catching communiqué to emerge was on his main obsession - weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

A protester is arrested in Geneva
Protesters made their frustrations clear
Although the French were not prepared to endorse a US plan allowing ships suspected of carrying material that could be used in WMD to be intercepted, they joined the other G8 countries in singling out North Korea and Iran for criticism over their nuclear programmes.

Their declaration urged North Korea to "visibly, verifiably and irreversibly" dismantle any nuclear weapons programme it had, and warned Iran that it must comply with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

In a significant step, Mr Putin pledged that Russia would halt its nuclear exports to Iran until that country complied with the treaty.

So no diplomatic disasters, but for the African leaders who were invited to the summit and the NGOs who were not, Evian is hardly a triumph.

According to Oxfam, when the history of the war on poverty is written, Evian won't even be a footnote.


The final declaration appears to be short on the concrete proposals that the invited leaders of developing countries, such as President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, were calling for on the eve of the meeting.

It talks, for example, of "redoubling efforts" in the fight to provide water - classic fudge-speak.

And, although there is a pledge to increase the supply of cheap medicines to the Third World, neither the US nor Europe has made a move to reduce export credits or agricultural subsidies - which was the sort of progress the NGOs were seeking.

The legacy of this summit will be slight, with its participants content to breathe a collective sigh of relief that any potential diplomatic disasters were averted.

That will not be an emotion shared by the people of nearby Geneva, where - for three nights running - anti-G8 protesters have fought battles with police and have looted shops.

The clean-up bill is likely to run into millions of dollars.

Chirac reopens Iraq wounds
03 Jun 03  |  Europe
France and US patch up quarrel
02 Jun 03  |  Europe
Russia 'halting Iran nuclear help'
02 Jun 03  |  Middle East
Behind the French-US bonhomie
02 Jun 03  |  Europe

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