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U.S. reportedly takes charge amid summit scheduling snafu

by Jun Hongo

ROME — The slapdash nature of the Group of Eight agenda has some questioning if Italy, which already pulled off a last-minute change of venue from La Maddalena to L’Aquila, is up to the task of playing host.

The British daily the Guardian reported Monday that “in the last few weeks before the summit, and in the absence of any substantive initiatives on the agenda, the U.S. has taken control” of managing the event.

Scheduling uncertainties have also exasperated Japanese officials, who claimed bilateral meetings could not be arranged until the last minute due to a lack of specific planning for G8 working sessions.

“By the same time last year, the agenda for the Toyako (Hokkaido) summit was 90 percent complete. But that isn’t the case for this year’s meeting,” one official said about a week before the summit.

But G8 members should think twice before blaming Italy for a lackluster meeting, said Oxfam Japan’s Takumo Yamada, an advocacy manager for the organization, noting all eight will be held liable if the event bears no fruit.