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Russia's Tent Empty During G-8 Summit
June 3, 2003

EVIAN, France (AP) - It's the empty tent at the powwow of world leaders. While some briefing tents are buzzing with activity, Russia's has been eerily quiet during its first summit as a full member.

Journalists who stopped at the Russian tent at the press center for the Group of Eight summit to inquire about possible interviews got one standard answer: ``Maybe tomorrow.''

The U.S. delegation has not been much more forthcoming, although its huge tent was abuzz with some 200 U.S. journalists filing from there.

A sign in front of the tent first said ``No briefings scheduled as of now. June 1.'' It didn't change all day. On Monday morning, someone had written a 2 over the 1, making it ``No briefings scheduled as of now. June 2.''

That left just Tuesday, but by then President Bush would be in Egypt for a meeting with Arab leaders.

Journalists had more success at other tents.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair showed up to talk about the summit's progress Monday morning at the British tent. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien briefed Canadian reporters at his tent and at a local golf club where some reporters fine-tuned their swings while awaiting his arrival.

But by Monday night - two days into the three-day summit - not a single Russian briefing had been held.

The tent lights were off.

G-8 leaders expressed confidence in a better economic future, but apparently French workers weren't listening.

Hours after the summit leaders on Monday pledged greater coordination to bolster the flagging global economy, French unions, seeking better pension rights and working conditions, closed down several sectors of the national economy for a 24-hour public sector strike.

Asked how he would deal with the disruptions, French President Jacques Chirac simply said, ``with dialogue and determination.''

Many planes will not fly and trains will stay in stations, wreaking havoc with plans of delegations and journalists to leave this small spa resort.

Good effort on terrorism. Could try harder with Africa.

University of Toronto researchers released a report card at the Group of Eight summit detailing whether G-8 members complied with their promises over the past year. The result was mixed.

The star pupil was Canada, which complied with commitments in 13 areas ranging from fighting terrorism and crime to economic growth and promoting education in Africa.

Italy was back of the class, failing to follow through on commitments in all the areas studied - except for battling terrorism.

The United States ranked fourth out of the eight, doing well against terrorism, preventing conflicts, on arms control, development aid and Africa, but lagging on issues involving trade, crime and water.

Britain and France tied for second, each complying with their promises 62 percent of the time.

Overall, G-8 members - the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Germany, Japan and Russia - complied with 35 percent of their promises since their last summit at Kananaskis, Canada, according to the report from Toronto University's G-8 Research Group.

Researcher John Kirton attributed Canadian earnestness to the fact that it hosted the last summit and because the G-8 gives Canada a voice on the world stage.

Unlike France, Britain, Russia and the United States, Canada is not a permanent member of the United Nation's Security Council, so the G-8 is ``Canada's only chance to be in with the heavy hitters of the world,'' Kirton said.

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