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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Puts Arafat on G-8 Agenda

APPresident Vladimir Putin waving from his limousine after arriving in Calgary on Wednesday to attend the G-8 summit in Kananaskis.
KANANASKIS, Alberta -- A global summit roiled by new economic turbulence and the Middle East conflict opened Wednesday as U.S. President George W. Bush confronted his allies' reluctance to support publicly the ouster of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Bush, sitting down to talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, called once more on Palestinians to make the "right decisions" and elect a leader other than Arafat -- a condition to U.S. help building an independent Palestine.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the Group of Eight summit host, declined to say that Arafat should go and tried to focus world leaders on the official agenda for this two-day meeting: terrorism, the global economy and African development aid.

Beside a small waterfall at a remote mountain resort, Chretien welcomed each visiting leader individually. Bush, Blair and the heads of state of France, Germany, Italy and Japan then joined Chretien for the first session.

President Vladimir Putin, the last participant to arrive, flew to the Canadian Rockies on Wednesday morning.

Protesters kept far from the meeting venue marched peacefully through downtown Calgary, snarling traffic while police on bicycles moved with them. A police helicopter whirred overhead as the protesters chanted, "Who owns the streets? We own the streets."

Leaders awoke to news that telecommunications giant WorldCom Inc. had disguised $3.8 billion in expenses, a disclosure that shook world markets. Bush pledged a full government investigation. (Story, Page 10.)

Meeting separately with Blair, the president also pushed his two-day-old plan for dramatic Palestinian reforms leading to Palestinian statehood. "I meant what I said, that there needs to be change," Bush said. "The status quo is unacceptable and it should not be acceptable to them."

Blair echoed Bush's frustration with Arafat, if not the president's demand for Arafat's removal from office. That's for the Palestinians to decide, Blair said. "But it's for us to say the consequences of electing people who aren't serious negotiating partners is that we can't move this forward."

The prime minister added: "I've tried as hard as anyone; I think I've had 30 different meetings with Chairman Arafat over the past few years. But ... you've got a situation where we have not been able to make progress, and there has been an attitude toward terrorism that is inconsistent with the notion of Israel's security."

The so-called Bush doctrine on terrorism leaves open the possibility of U.S. military action against states that harbor or support terrorists. Bush was asked Wednesday if the doctrine -- and possible military force -- apply to Arafat.

"I'm never ruling out military. All options are available. But in this case ... the tool I'm using is diplomatic pressure to work with our friends and allies to convince all parties they have a responsibility to bear," Bush said.

In talks with Bush on Tuesday evening, Chretien supported the U.S. push for democratic Palestinian elections but stopped short of endorsing Arafat's ouster.

"I'm told there will be elections before the end of the year. We hope it will be a real election that will produce somebody that is democratically elected," he said.

Noting Bush wanted Arafat gone, Chretien said: "I don't have a specific point of view on that."

Bush also met Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who told reporters on the flight to Canada he supported Bush's "proactive" Middle East initiative but that it would be a major topic of discussion.

Thousands of Canadian police and soldiers surrounded Kananaskis, armed with laser-guided anti-aircraft missiles, tanks, helicopters and automatic weapons to guard against any terrorist threat.

Intent on demonstrating a united front against terrorism at the first G-8 summit since Sept. 11, the participants prepared a joint "action plan" on ways to make air travel and cargo shipments more secure.

Chretien wants the summit to produce agreement on a new plan to increase development aid for Africa. For the first time, the summit has invited outsiders -- in this case four African leaders, from South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan -- to take part in the annual talks.