The Nations Meeting at the G-8 Summit

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The world's seven richest nations, joined by Russia, will meet for their 27th annual economic summit beginning Friday in Genoa, Italy. The following is a list of the countries and their leaders:

UNITED STATES

President Bush, 55, is headed into his first economic summit and his second trip to Europe since becoming president.

Unlike President Clinton, who enjoyed supercharged U.S. growth rates during his last term, Bush will go to Genoa with the U.S. economy in the doldrums. But Bush will insist that his $1.35 trillion tax cut, his biggest achievement since taking office, and aggressive interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve, will turn America's economic fortunes around in the second half of this year.

Bush is certain to come in for criticism for rejecting the global warming treaty, which Europe strongly supports, and his decision to push forward with a missile defense shield, a position that has angered Russia.

Anti-globalization protesters, whose signs call Bush the "toxic Texan," will add their voices to those objecting to the new administration's positions. At home, polls show that Bush's job approval ratings have slipped 6 to 8 percentage points since the spring and now hover around the 50 percent, still better than Clinton's 39 approval ratings at the same time in his presidency.

RUSSIA

Vladimir Putin, 48, attending his second economic summit, has retained the same high level of popularity that he has enjoyed since winning the Russian presidency last year, a 70 percent approval rating.

Putin has been helped by a Russian economy that has been doing better over the past year, bolstered by high world energy prices, which help Russia, a major oil exporter. Putin's government is pushing an ambitious reform agenda which includes overhauling the nation's convoluted tax system and its slow and inefficient judicial system.

Putin will be certain to raise anew his strong objections to Bush's missile defense shield.

JAPAN

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who took office in April vowing to attack Japan's worsening economic troubles and reform the political system, is the country's most popular leader in decades. Recent public opinion polls put his approval rating at 80 percent.

With his trademark flowing hairstyle and his love of rock 'n' roll, Koizumi, 59, plays up his role as a maverick. While he is pursuing economic policies long advocated by outside experts -- unloading bad bank loans and deregulating the economy, he has acknowledged that his program could result in two to three years of lower economic growth at a time when Japan already appears to be slipping back into recession. Koizumi disappointed the Europeans when he declared during his first meeting with Bush last month that Japan will not go forward in implementing the Kyoto global warming treaty without the United States.

GERMANY

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, 57, in office for nearly three years, remains highly popular despite Germany's growing economic problems, with two-thirds of Germans saying they are satisfied with his work according to one recent poll.

With elections due in the fall of 2002, Schroeder is banking on an economic upturn to lock away a second term. His opposition remains weak, reflecting the scandals that engulfed former Chancellor Helmut Kohl after he left office.

Forecasts for German economic growth this year keep getting revised lower as Europe's biggest economy suffers from the weakness in one of its major export markets, the United States. Schroeder has rejected demands to speed up planned tax cuts to boost Germany's sagging economy, arguing that it is more important to meet the goal of balancing the German budget by 2006, calling this the "policy of the steady hand." Proud of his role in pushing debt relief for the world's poorest countries at the 1999 Cologne summit, Schroeder is expected to seek further progress in this area in Genoa.

BRITAIN

Prime Minister Tony Blair, 48, won a second landslide victory in June, giving him up to five more years in office with an unassailable majority in the House of Commons. However, Blair is feeling pressure to deliver on the unkept promises of his first term -- to make improvements in education, the National Health Service and the country's railway system. One indication of growing impatience from the liberal wing of his party is the effort by some Labor members of parliament to attack Blair during the traditional question period in the House of Commons when the prime minister stands to answer questions from other members of Parliament.

Given that Britain is traditionally America's most loyal ally, Bush is certain to seek Blair's support during his stopover in Britain on his way to Genoa. However, Blair is expected to join with other European leaders in an effort to get Bush to moderate his opposition to the Kyoto global warming treaty.

FRANCE

President Jacques Chirac, 68, is embroiled in escalating investigations at home. He declared on national television that he has "nothing to hide" from judges who are looking into cash payments for trips made when he was mayor of Paris.

The conservative president is expected to be opposed in next year's election by Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin although neither man has officially declared his candidacy.

During the summit, Chirac is expected to focus on the global health fund for AIDS and other infectious diseases. He will also be leading the opposition to Bush's rejection of the Kyoto global warming treaty.

ITALY

Silvio Berlusconi, 64, won a second stint as premier in national elections in May, as head of a conservative coalition government. Berlusconi, Italy's richest man, has the support of 58 percent of Italians, but he faces pressures to resolve conflicts between his private holdings, which include the country's largest television network, and his government duties.

The conservative business executive has made no secret of his desire for a close relationship with the conservative Bush, seeing him as a natural ally. Bush will stop off in Rome after the summit for a personal visit with Berlusconi and a meeting with the pope. Berlusconi, who was at the head of the Italian government for the last economic summit hosted by his country in Naples in 1994, has expressed concerns that this year's meeting could be marred by violent clashes between police and the more militant demonstrators.

CANADA

Prime Minister Jean Chretien, 67, is in the strongest position of his eight years in power, having won a third straight term as head of government in parliamentary elections last November.

Chretien said in a pre-summit interview that he saw the global battle against AIDS as the most important issue.

He said Canada will align itself with Europe in backing the Kyoto global warming treaty in opposition to the Bush position. Chretien will probably be watching how the authorities handle the demonstrators very closely given that Canada will be the host of next year's summit meeting.