G-8 has no plan to invite India as a new member

P.S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: The Group of Eight (G-8) has no plan at the moment to invite India or China as a new member and expand this forum of economic powers. The grouping, scheduled to hold its summit in Japan on Tuesday, will engage these two countries, along with other ‘outreach partners,’ on Wednesday.

Japanese Spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi told The Hindu over the telephone from Tokyo that “no country [within the Group] has [for now] expressed an interest in widening the G-8.” He was referring to the latest meeting of the G-8 Foreign Ministers that set the formal agenda for the summit.

Mr. Taniguchi said: “The Japanese government [which will host the summit] is of the view that the dialogue process between the G-8 and the ‘outreach countries’ continues to be very much important. Japan is also of the view that the [current] arrangement of G-8, whose leaders have a shared sense of responsibility for the management of the world, is valuable and should continue as such.”

Group expansion

According to other diplomatic sources, some G-8 members, notably France and Britain, seem inclined to consider expanding the Group at a suitable time to accommodate China and India as emerging powers. The United States is also said to have evinced interest in India’s case sometime ago.

The leaders of the G-8 or the ‘outreach countries’ could, therefore, raise this issue in their many interactions during their prospective meetings in Japan, these other sources said. The Group, which consisted of seven countries before Russia’s admission, had begun as a club of rich nations.

About the formal agenda, Mr. Taniguchi said climate change would come under laser-like spotlight, with the G-8 seeking to catalyse “broad, wide-ranging, and inclusive negotiations” among the developed bloc and developing countries for a post-Kyoto accord.

The G-8 would emphasise the importance of “solidarity” over this issue. The discussions would “not be [a] choreographed [exercise],” he said.

India’s position on climate change was presented by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran at a meeting of the Group of Major Economies in Seoul, which drafted a declaration for the G-8 summit with the ‘outreach countries.’

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