Securing a political process to put an end to the Syrian civil war is set to dominate the G8 summit when the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries come together today in Northern Ireland.
The ongoing conflict threatens to overshadow the scheduled discussions on trade, tax and transparency, after US President Barack Obama announced he was ready to start supplying weapons to the rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al Assad.
Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in Northern Ireland to receive other world leaders at the summit.
US President Barack Obama, joined by his wife Michelle and their two daughters Malia and Sasha, will address 2,000 students in Belfast this morning before meeting his counterparts.
Their audience has been described as “the generation of peace” – young people born after the ceasefires.
There is speculation Mr Obama will urge politicians in Northern Ireland to turn the page from peace process to shared society. White House sources say he wants them to “finish the job”.
The First Family will be welcomed by Hannah Nelson, 16, a student from Methodist College, Belfast, whose essay on “making peace permanent” impressed the US Consulate in the city.
The challenges posed by another conflict are expected to dominate the summit in County Fermanagh.
Mr Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in London yesterday to discuss the crisis in Syria, but appeared to have reached little common ground.
At a joint news conference, Mr Cameron acknowledged there were “big differences” between the two leaders on who was to blame for the conflict but insisted they could be overcome.
Mr Putin strongly defended the supply of arms by Moscow to Assad’s “legitimate” government, but also stressed that he wanted to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
He said he believed the G8 summit is “one of the most appropriate means” to seek an end to the conflict.
Mr Putin and Mr Obama will hold a separate bilateral meeting at the Lough Erne resort.
Mr Cameron is hosting both presidents and the political leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan at the plush golfing venue.
The summit is taking place amid a security operation of unprecedented scale, with some 8,000 police officers – 3,600 of them borrowed from forces in England, Scotland and Wales – on patrol.
Vehicle checkpoints are back on the streets, there is a no-fly-zone over the venue and an “armada” of security vessels is patrolling a secure stretch of Lough Erne.
Police have warned of significant disruption. Eight world leaders and their entourages will be on the move.
The 8,000 thousand students sitting exams were advised to travel to school early.
With President Obama engaged in the serious business of world politics, the First Lady and their daughters will pay private visits to Dublin and Wicklow.
Two years ago, the President and his wife went to Moneygall in County Offaly, from where his great, great, great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, emigrated in 1850 before settling in Indiana.
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1104539