Saturday, May 19, 2012

Camp David G8: President Obama Hosts Working Lunch On Africa Food Security

It's the first time business executives and NGOs have been invited to attend a G8 Summit, President says...Video and participant list...
On Saturday at Camp David in Maryland, President Obama hailed the 1:00 PM working lunch devoted to food security as "'remarkable." Held in the Laurel Lodge, the session was a follow-up to the President's Friday announcement of a ten-year, $3 billion partnership plan for public-private agricultural investments on the continent, designed to lift 50 million people out of hunger and poverty. In addition to the G8 leaders, four African leaders were invited to attend, and there were six executives from some of the 45 US and African corporations that have partnered for the New Alliance for Food and Nutrition. The President said he believes it is the first time private sector representatives--who included PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi--have attended a session at any G8 Summit.

"What makes this remarkable is this is probably the first time at a G8 Summit where in addition to having the leaders involved, we also have leaders of NGOs and business leaders involved," President Obama said.

"My goal is to have a very open conversation...and my hope is that coming out of this meeting, we are then going to be able to then each of us have assignments that we have to execute before the next G8 Summit."

Seated at a long rectangular table between Ghana's President John Atta Millls and President Yayi Boni of Benin, chairman of the African Union, President Obama was in his shirtsleeves. During the lunch, he said, the group will be "looking for a range of innovative ideas." (Above: Beside the President are from l Boni, British PM David Cameron, Eleni Gabre Madhin, CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, and Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev)

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania were the other two African leaders attending. The New Alliance builds on the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative, a $22.billion effort created in 2009 by G8 leaders, led by President Obama.

Per the White House, attendees from the US private sector included Nooyi, Chair and CEO of PepsiCo and Mr. Michael Mack, CEO of Syngenta International AG. From Africa: Tidjane Thiam, Cote d'Ivoire group CEO of Prudential; Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Rwanda, President of African Development Bank Group; Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Ethiopia, CEO and founder of Ethiopia and Commodity Exchange; and Mr. Strive Masiytwa, Zimbabwe, chairman and founder of Econet Wireless. Staffers were seated in chairs along the wall, including USAID chief Rajiv Shah, who was behind the President.

The press was escorted out after the President's welcoming remarks:

Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman said during a Thursday briefing that the G8 has "for years" had an Africa outreach session, but "this year the President decided to focus the African outreach session on food security to highlight the importance of this issue in particular."

*The White House Fact Sheet on G8 action and the New Alliance.

On Friday night, the President opened the G8 with a two-hour working dinner for nine world leaders. Today, the global economy, Europe's debt crisis, and oil markets were the main topics of discussion. In the morning, the President gathered with the G8 leaders for the traditional family photo. (Above, from l: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Medvedev, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, France's President Francois Hollande, President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cameron, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti, and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy)

The President departs on Saturday night for the NATO Summit in Chicago, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama on Saturday hosted a White House luncheon for G8 leaders spouses.

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*White House video; pool photos