As the leaders of 17 countries, including Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, China and the United States gathered in the earthquake-devastated city of L'Aquila on July 7, the ground shook beneath their feet, sparking concern over whether it was safe enough to hold the high-profile summit there.
Italian authorities had decided to hold the Group of Eight (G8) summit, which ran from July 8 to 10, in the quake-hit region as an expression of solidarity and to help reconstruction efforts. Hundreds of aftershocks have continued to rock the region since the April 6 earthquake that killed nearly 300 people and displaced 50,000, many of whom are living in tent cities in L'Aquila and environs. Recent aftershocks, however, have not caused further casualties or damage to buildings.
As always, the summit focused on key international issues; this year's topics included preventing a recurrence of the worldwide economic crisis; international crises in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran and Iraq; food security in Africa; and climate change.
This year's summit also included talks with leaders of developing and smaller countries, in all 39 countries and international organizations, representing 90 percent of the world's economy.
In response to violent riots in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Chinese president Hu Jintao returned home after visiting Rome, Florence and Pisa, leaving delegates to participate in the talks.
Security was very tight throughout the duration of the summit, as local law enforcement officials feared a resurgence of violent protests by No Global activists from across Europe. The 27 activists arrested in Rome on July 7 were among 150 protesters who demonstrated there. Five French youths and a small group of Dutch nationals armed with batons were arrested in the towns of Pettino and Carsoli, both near the site of the summit.
The summit was also marked by a series of peaceful protests, like that by a group of environmentalists from 18 countries who scaled smokestacks and occupied five coal-fired Italian power plants owned by Italian energy giant Enel.
A large group of Abruzzo residents currently living in tent cities displayed a massive protest sign on a hillside near the town of Onna: ‘Yes, we camp.'
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