KANANASKIS, Alberta -- World leaders, wrapping up a summit rocked by a new U.S. corporate bookkeeping scandal and dissension over President Bush's Mideast policy, turned their attention to Africa and a far-reaching program to provide billions of dollars of assistance to the world's poorest continent.
Bush, who has lobbied the other leaders to support his new Middle East peace proposal and its demand that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat be ousted, was to discuss the issue during a meeting Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this week, Putin said bluntly that it would be "dangerous and mistaken" to remove Arafat, saying such an action risked a "radicalization of the Palestinian people." On Thursday, Putin's foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, reiterated the Russian view: "We must work with the leadership in place, including Arafat."
Putin was emerging as one of the big winner's at this year's annual summit of industrial powers. The United States and the other rich countries were close to a deal to provide $20 billion in support over the next decade to help Russia dispose of its aging nuclear stockpile -- and keep it out of the hands of terrorists.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States would put up $10 billion, with the remaining summit countries agreeing to a U.S. request that they put up the other half. The official said the only stumbling point was Russia's acceptance of conditions on how the program will be run.
Also, on the first day of two days of discussions, the Group of Eight -- made up of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia -- announced that finally after years of trying, Russia would be made a full-fledged member of the elite group and be placed in the rotation to serve as host for a summit for the first time in 2006.
Bush, however, had far less success winning support for the new Middle East peace plan he announced on Monday, which demanded the removal of Arafat before progress could be made in establishing a Palestinian state.
Bush said he "won't be putting money into a society" dominated by corrupt leaders and he said "I suspect other countries won't either." Two senior officials said Bush was referring to the promise of a robust international aid package if democratic reforms are enacted, not the $100 million in humanitarian aid currently going to Palestinians, which they said is not in jeopardy.
Other countries did not endorse Bush's call for the ouster of Arafat, though British Prime Minister Tony Blair came closest to the U.S. position. French President Jacques Chirac, echoing comments of other European leaders, said, "It is for the Palestinian people, and them alone, to choose their representatives."
The G-8 leaders also pondered how to offer assurances to global financial markets, which were sent tumbling on Wednesday with news of a new corporate accounting scandal -- WorldCom Inc.'s announcement that it had disguised $3.8 billion of expenses. Bush labeled the disclosures "outrageous."
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, this year's summit host, said the WorldCom situation had been a "preoccupation of all leaders" because of concerns that questionable corporate accounting was shaking investor confidence and raising doubts about the sustainability of the U.S. recovery from last year's recession.
The heavy security at this year's summit -- thousands of soldiers, tanks and anti-aircraft missiles -- served as a visible reminder that the discussions were clouded by the shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The remote location in the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary also sharply reduced the number of anti-globalization protesters, a marked contrast from last year when thousands of demonstrators clashed with police in Genoa, Italy, resulting in one death.
The demonstrations Wednesday in Calgary, about 85 miles east of the meeting venue, and in Ottawa, 2,000 miles farther away, were mostly peaceful.
On terrorism, the G-8 produced a new action plan to make airline travel safer and to close what is seen as a major opening for terrorists, inadequate surveillance of the thousands of cargo containers that enter ports around the world every day.
The agenda for the final day was a discussion of Africa and a new compact between the wealthy nations of the world and impoverished African countries. The wealthy nations would provide billions of dollars in new aid and corporate investment to African nations who promise to root out government corruption and pursue free-market reforms.
The leaders were being joined for the discussions by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the presidents of four African countries -- South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal.
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