At crossroad over landmark accords

L' AQUILA: World leaders gathered at the Group of Eight summit on Wednesday wrestled over a potential landmark agreement on limiting the global rise in temperature, but were expected to emphasise that signs of economic recovery are not yet strong enough to withdraw powerful stimulus measures.

Italian host, Premier Silvio Berlusconi, welcomed the leaders, many of whom arrived at the summit in electric cars bearing their nation’s flag.

US President Barack Obama walked into the summit site for the first G8 meeting of his presidency.

The leaders may fall short on reaching a commitment to keep the globe’s average temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius in a bid to contain global warming. The United States, Japan, Canada and Russia — half of the G8 — have previously refused to back it, and the White House declined today to comment if it had signed off on a

statement citing the temperature threshold.

US backing for the deal would mark an abrupt turnaround from the Bush administration’s stand and be a strong gesture to developing nations.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters that he hoped that the leaders could agree to the specific limit on the rise in temperature. “We are not yet there where we would like to be but I think things are shaping in the right direction for Copenhagen,” Barroso said, referring to the next meeting of a key international summit to replace the Kyoto protocol in December.

The abrupt return home of Chinese President Hu Jintao after ethnic tensions soared in China’s western Xingjiang territory could weaken trust-building discussions on making further progress on climate change. China is among five developing market economies — along with Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa — who are participating in the summit for the fifth straight year.