Leaders back Russia on Middle East flare-up

For G8 members gathered on their final working day, just as last year’s Gleneagles summit was overshadowed by the London underground train bombings, this time they gathered to talk about energy security, education and health as the Middle East pushed its

The summit’s second day brought a Russian initiative on the region’s affairs, agreed by the assembly and welcomed by Israel. World leaders told Hezbollah militants they must free the abducted Israeli soldiers and bring attacks on Israel to an immediate end. They also called on Israel to exercise restraint. Heads of state issued declarations calling for energy security, fighting infectious diseases and improving education. The new strategy in energy security focussed on investment, effectiveness of energy supplies and solving environmental problems – labeled the St. Petersburg Plan. It aims for more transparency and predictability in the energy market, a major concern for both suppliers and consumers. “This is a key movement on a large scale which is really vital for understanding that the energy chain is predictable and reliable when all sides involved are committed to their obligations,” said Russian Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko.  Global demand for energy is expected to rise by more than one-and a-half times over the next 20 years. Eighty percent of supplies will have to be gas and oil. The stock market float of Rosneft, one of Russia's largest oil producers, became one of the most talked-about events at the G8 sessions.
Three of its major investors will be British Petroleum, Petronas of Malaysia and China's CNPC. The St. Petersburg Plan also sets goals for developing a next generation of nuclear power plants meeting stricter safety and efficiency guidelines. G8 leaders also called for diversification of the industry, saying it was necessary to develop alternative energy and renewable sources. But environmental campaigners such as Greenpeace were not so happy at the outcome. They believe the leaders missed an opportunity to develop renewable strategy that would in itself provide energy security. Electric golf carts that became the favourite summit transportation were an opportunity for them to show some green credentials. President Putin has also been speaking about gas prices, declaring that the cost of fuel was dictated by international markets, not the Kremlin. A declaration on education focused on improving standards in mathematics and science teaching. On health matters, they called for international co-operation on monitoring infectious diseases and promised to seek extra financing for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The assembled leaders discussed working together in the fight against terrorism. Answering a question about possibilities of extraditing Akhmed Zakaev, an emissary of Chechen militants now living in London, Russia’s president noted the importance of understanding between countries on classification of terrorists.