Leaders Joke Despite Differences During 'Family' Photo

The setting was idyllic Sunday for the traditional family photo of G-8 summit leaders (search) and their guests from around the world: a green Alpine meadow with snowcapped peaks in the backdrop.

The leaders themselves put on a good show of good humor despite lingering differences over Iraq.

President Bush laughed with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (search), and then patted the back of French President Jacques Chirac, this year's Group of Eight summit host and Bush's most ardent anti-war foe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived in Evian (search) after successfully hosting world leaders for the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg, just beamed -- and beamed -- before being buttonholed by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Chirac has done more than any other summit host to broaden the agenda and the guest list beyond the traditionally dark-suited participants of the world's most industrialized nations.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo tugged at his long copper-colored robe before the shutter clicked and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia adjusted the "ugal," the black rope used to hold on his "ghutra," the traditional white Arab headcover. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also wore his country's national dress.

New Chinese leader Hu Jintao hasn't been on the international scene long enough to engage in summit banter and stood quietly by himself.

Menu Kept Secret

As closely safeguarded as the leaders at the Group of Eight summit was their menu.

Students at France's oldest hotelry school who were chosen to prepare Monday lunch for the leaders didn't know what they would be cooking.

Hazarding a guess, hotelry school director Patrice Broussou said fresh fish from the waters of Lake Geneva was a likely choice, accompanied perhaps by Chateau de Ripaille, a dry white wine from nearby Thonon-Les-Bains.

"I guess it will be a fairly complete menu," Broussou said. "When ones invites the world's most important people, one doesn't prepare a small meal."

Broussou suspects the secrecy is part of the elaborate summit security. After all, it wouldn't do if terrorists poisoned the food.

"By not knowing what products are being used, it's not possible to know what products to attack," Broussou said.

Four student chefs will prepare the lunch under the guidance of a teacher, and another four in the waiter service program will serve it.

Water on Tap

Water is a central theme at this year's summit -- and not just because Evian, the town where the leaders are meeting, is synonymous with the bottled sort.

Water also is being featured as a form of transport and a resource in short supply in parts of the world.

Leaders from developing nations invited to the annual summit of the world's most powerful countries arrived by water -- ferried across Lake Geneva on a gloriously sunny day on the classic paddlewheel steamer Montreux, which has been plying the Lemanic waters since 1904.

Water, the resource, also was on the summit agenda.

Chirac says he's keen for G-8 leaders to make good on a pledge to reduce by half the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation by 2015.

"This is a very ambitious goal, particularly in Africa," Chirac said before the summit.

In Evian, water is plentiful and the source of the Alpine town's fame. Doctors began prescribing it in the 18th century for kidney troubles. Now better known now as a refreshment, Evian water is exported around the world.