- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2003

EVIAN, France — They came from as far away as China, India, Brazil, South Africa and, for a few hours at least, they’ll rub shoulders with leaders of the world’s richest, most powerful nations.

Evian is providing a rare opportunity for the developing world to be heard.

In a break with tradition, 11 leaders of developing nations will meet today with their counterparts from the Group of Eight, the club of the world’s most powerful nations, holding its annual summit in this mountain-ringed spa town.

French President Jacques Chirac, the summit host, brought them in to take some steam out of antiglobalization protesters who fume that the G-8 is nothing more than a rich nations’ meeting, blind to the problems of the less fortunate.

Despite the gesture, French police fired tear gas yesterday to disperse several hundred anarchists in the first major disturbance ahead of the summit.

In explaining the invitations, Mr. Chirac’s government referred the shared challenges of globalization, the dizzying process of freer trade, and threats from diseases and terrorism that span borders.

“The way we see it, the G-8 is not a directorate for the world,” Mr. Chirac’s spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, said. “The aim of this meeting is simply to allow dialogue between leaders of emerging countries and those of developed nations who don’t get to see enough of each other.”

Mr. Chirac and other G-8 leaders, including President Bush, will spend about 4 hours this afternoon with leaders from developing nations. They are holding a separate meeting this evening with only African leaders. Aside from France and the United States, the G-8 comprises Russia, Germany, Italy, Canada, Britain and Japan.

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