EVIAN, France – They come 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 Sunday with their counterparts from the Group of Eight (search), the club of the world's most powerful nations, holding its annual summit in this mountain-ringed spa town.
French President Jacques Chirac (search), the summit host, brought them in to take some steam out of anti-globalization protesters who fume that the G-8 is nothing more than a rich nations' powwow, blind to the problems of the less fortunate.
Chirac also cited 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," 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."
Chirac and other G-8 leaders, including President Bush, will spend about 4 hours Sunday afternoon with leaders from developing nations. They are holding a separate meeting Sunday evening with only African leaders.
Aside from France and the United States, the G-8 groups Russia, Germany, Italy, Canada, Britain and Japan.
Together, they control about half the world's wealth, according to the French organizers. When all the leaders assemble in Evian, 70 percent to 80 percent of the world's population and wealth will be represented at Evian, Chirac's spokeswoman said.
One invited leader, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (search), said he would challenge his richer counterparts to increase investment in less-developed countries and create an international fund aimed at eradicating world hunger.
"Leaders of rich countries need to understand that when the Third World (search) develops, the First World (search) benefits ... through more markets for their companies and products," the former union boss said in a statement ahead of the meeting.
Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, is looking for financing to instill democracy and human rights in developing countries and for infrastructure to enable them to get food and aid to the needy, said a spokeswoman, Claudia Algorri Guzman.
China attended for the first time and was represented by its new president, Hu Jintao. Making his first trip overseas since taking office in March, Hu will meet separately with Bush and Chirac.
Also attending are the presidents of Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa; Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah; and prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.