Leaders arrive in Canada ahead of G8/G20 summits
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, June 24, 2010 7:01PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:01AM EDT
World leaders have started making their way to Huntsville, Ont. for the G8 and G20 summits.
Among the first to arrive was Chinese President Hu Jintao. Before travelling to Toronto for the G20 summit on Saturday, Hu first touched down in Ottawa for an official state visit.
"Your visit to our country and our upcoming visit to yours show the extent of the enduring friendship that has existed between Canada and China for many years," Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said, referring to her six-day China trip next week.
"We hope that these visits will give rise to even more opportunities for exchanges between our two countries."
Hu's arrival was not without controversy.
Hu's visit came days after the head of the Canada's spy agency suggested elected Canadian officials were being influenced by China.
Hu was expected to hold a news conference Thursday but it was promptly cancelled. No official reason has been given for the cancellation.
"My guess is that it was very certain that a reporter was going to ask about the remarks," said Craig Oliver, CTV's chief political correspondent.
Oliver said the incident could have tainted the "watershed" meeting between China and Canada -- a meeting he called one of the most important of the G8 and G20 summits.
"China has replaced Germany as the world's largest economy," he said. "Not only is it becoming a world economic power but also a world military power."
While Hu's official welcome played out cordially inside Jean's official residence Rideau Hall, his arrival was marked by opposing demonstrators outside.
On one hand, hundreds of supporters lined the road cheering support for the Chinese president. On the other, a crowd of protestors voiced their displeasure with China's human rights record.
Although the official nature of his visit to Ottawa has drawn the spotlight to Hu's arrival in the capital, he is not the first leader to arrive in Canada.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, fresh from meeting with his country's disgraced World Cup football team, has already arrived.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is making his international summit debut this week, will first touch down in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take part in Canadian Navy centennial celebrations before flying to Toronto on Friday.
Russian President Dimitry Medvedev is in Washington for an official meeting with his U.S. counterpart President Barack Obama before heading north later in the week.
Medvedev, Cameron and Sarkozy will join Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and Japanese PM Naoto Kan for the G8 summit in Huntsville on Friday.
And, in addition to these official members of the G8, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invited 10 leaders of African, Caribbean and Latin American nations to participate in the cottage country get-together.
Harper will kick off official events with a welcoming ceremony just before noon on Friday.
During their meetings at the Deerhurst resort in Huntsville, leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of matters encompassing peace, security and maternal health.
G8 leaders will then head back to Toronto for the larger G20 gathering.
South African President Jacob Zuma was among the first to arrive for the G20 meetings, touching down at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, followed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathon.
Other leaders' travel itineraries include:
Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan, who is attending in the stead of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, will fly from Australia on Friday
Just three weeks into his new job as Japanese PM, Naoto Kan flies from Japan to Canada on Thursday
Talking to reporters before boarding her Canada-bound flight from Berlin on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned observers to expect conflict on several issues.
"I don't expect agreement across the board here, but I'm happy that we found a common position in Europe as regards a banking fee as well as a global financial-market transaction tax," Merkel said.
With files from CTV's Tom Clark and The Canadian Press