Obama moves G8 summit to Camp David

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President Barack Obama talks with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Oval Office, March 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In a White House statement dated March 5, 2012, The President announced “To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues.”

The G6, as the Group of Six wealthiest nation’s was originally dubbed, convened in 1975 after the first oil crisis two years prior. The group has grown to the G8, with Canada joining in 1976 and Russia in 1997. There have been several summits where other wealthy nations or emerging markets were invited, but the group still remains focused around the eight wealthiest. Also, over the years, other groups and individuals have been invited to attend – most notably, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and national leaders of countries such as South Africa, Iraq, Turkey and South Korea.

Since 2001, the summits have been held at more remote locations, but still accessible (at least visibly) by the public, who often are seen protesting various issues. This year, with the G8 and NATO summits being held in Chicago consecutively (G8 from May 18-19 and NATO May 20-21), the protestors scheduled are working under the joint banners of a war and poverty agenda. (The Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda received a permit to rally and march on May 19th – which will see no meetings that day anyway.)

This is the first time the summit will be held in a location such as Camp David, where no public scrutiny would be allowed.

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Local law enforcement officials in Chicago believe the move was due to the White House’s lack of confidence that Chicago would be prepared security-wise. The White House has denied this. And some protestors are seeing the move as a sign that they ‘chased the summit out of town.’ Chicago mayor, and recent White House Chief of Staff, believes that Chicago and its police department can handle anything coming their way with the summits and protestors.

The original date of the G8 summit when it was planned for Chicago was May 19th. The new dates, now that it is being held at the Presidential retreat at Camp David, are May 18th and 19th.

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