Who’s who at the G8 summit

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images News         The G8 summit is getting under way, and so are the caricatures of the world’s top leaders. In that spirit (but hopefully without the venom), Passport brings you a brief rundown of the main players in what is turning out to be quite the drama indeed. From left ...

601494_070606g8_0_05.jpg
601494_070606g8_0_05.jpg

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images News        

The G8 summit is getting under way, and so are the caricatures of the world's top leaders. In that spirit (but hopefully without the venom), Passport brings you a brief rundown of the main players in what is turning out to be quite the drama indeed. From left to right:

George W. Bush (USA): THE WEAK. Now that Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder have left the political stage, Europe looks friendlier. But with a president about to leave office and embattled by the domestic opposition, the United States is in bad shape for this summit.

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images News        

The G8 summit is getting under way, and so are the caricatures of the world’s top leaders. In that spirit (but hopefully without the venom), Passport brings you a brief rundown of the main players in what is turning out to be quite the drama indeed. From left to right:

George W. Bush (USA): THE WEAK. Now that Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder have left the political stage, Europe looks friendlier. But with a president about to leave office and embattled by the domestic opposition, the United States is in bad shape for this summit.

Stephen Harper (Canada): THE CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALIST. Harper’s pro-emission cuts agenda is likely to find allies in Germany’s Merkel and Japan’s Abe, but Canada’s southern neighbor won’t be happy.

Angela Merkel (Germany): THE HOSTESS. As the host-country of this year’s summit, Germany gets to set the agenda. It is a key test for Chancellor Merkel, whose popularity comes primarily from foreign policy initiatives like getting tough on climate change.

Nicolas Sarkozy (France): THE NEWCOMER. Very committed to addressing the crisis in Darfur, France’s freshly-elected new star will be the main attraction at this year’s summit. 

Vladimir Putin (Russia): THE LONER. At odds with the West over Kosovo, Eastern Europe’s missile defense system and the Litvinenko affair, Mr. Putin is also likely to receive a cold handshake from Ms. Merkel: Last winter, Russia’s energy power politics games gave Germans the chills.

Tony Blair (UK): THE VETERAN. Mr. Blair is no doubt looking forward to dealing with a France no longer led by Chirac, with whom he had notorious personal differences. Too bad he will be out of office too soon to really get acquainted with the new tenant of the Élysée Palace.

Romano Prodi (Italy): THE ILLUSIONIST. Mr. Prodi will have to perform yet another trick of magic to keep his ruling coalition together during the G8, as some of his allies are vehemently anti-Bush.

Shinzo Abe (Japan): THE AWKWARD. Famous for sticking his foot in his mouth when it comes to Japan and WWII, Mr. Abe is using climate change to try to improve his international profile ahead of the 2008 G8 summit, scheduled to take place in Japan.

Hu Jintao (China): THE GREAT ABSENTEE. As a not-yet-advanced economy, China is not one of the big Gs. But the G8 without Beijing looks increasingly anachronistic. (not pictured)

Erica Alini is a Rome-based researcher for the Associated Press.

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