Barack Obama will host the G8 summit at his Camp David presidential retreat in the Maryland countryside instead of Chicago as first scheduled, the White House said.
“To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G8 partners, the president is inviting his fellow G8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19,” the White House said in a statement.
The G8 — which consists of France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Japan, the United States, Russia, and Britain — has attracted violent street protests in the past from groups who view it as a rich club that does not do enough to help the poor.
Some Chicago businesses had voiced concern that the Occupy Wall St protest movement could target their city during the G8, and Chicago police had prepared for heavy duty during the event as well as a Nato summit a few days later.
The White House played down security concerns as a reason for shifting the event to the somewhat more remote location, about 85km north of Washington in the scenic Catoctin Mountains.
“The president felt that Camp David would provide an informal and intimate setting to have a free-flowing discussion with his fellow leaders,” according to White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor.
The G8 is viewed by policy exports as a more manageable forum than the broader G-20 grouping to discuss thorny security issues, at a time when Obama is seeking to maintain international pressure on Iran’s nuclear programme.
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