July 10th, 2009
11:58 AM ET
13 years ago

Citing 'productive' G8, Obama heads to Africa with a message

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/07/10/g8.summit/art.obama.zuma.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Obama greets his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, on Friday at the Group of Eight summit."]L'AQUILA, Italy (CNN) - President Obama declared the G8 summit Friday "highly productive," writing off suggestions that the United States did not get some key things it wanted out of the meeting.

"We've agreed to take significant measures to address some of the most pressing threats facing our environment, our global economy, and our international security," Obama told reporters at a news conference.

He denied reports that the United States had sought potential new sanctions against Iran for its violent crackdown on protesters following the recent presidential election. Instead, Obama said, "What we wanted was exactly what we got, which is a statement of unity and strong condemnation about the appalling treatment of peaceful protesters."

He also noted that on climate change, the G8 nations agreed to "reduce our emissions by 80 percent" - though the deadline for such achievement was set for 2050.

"We did not reach agreement on every issue. And we still have much work ahead on climate change," Obama said. "But these achievements are highly meaningful and they'll generate significant momentum" for future talks.

The G8 - the gathering of the wealthiest nations - agreed to work together to solve the worldwide financial crisis, Obama said.

A key part of that: an agreement to invest $20 billion to fight world hunger.

Going into the meeting, the group had planned $15 billion. Obama said the change came in part due to a move on his part - citing his own family background.

"My father traveled to the united states a mere 50 years ago. And yet now I have family members who live in villages. They themselves are not going hungry, but live in villages where hunger is real. And so this is something that I understand in very personal terms," he said.

Obama said he shared that with fellow G8 leaders, and pointed to corruption and "lack of transparency" in much of Africa.

"We've got 100 million people who dropped into further dire poverty as a consequence of this recession. We estimate that 1 billion people are hungry around the globe. And so, wealthier nations have a moral obligation as well as a national security interest in providing assistance. And we've got to meet those responsibilities.

"The flip side is that countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world that are suffering from extreme poverty have an obligation to use the assistance that's available in a way that's transparent, accountable and that builds on rule of law and others that allow long-term improvement. There's no reason that Africa can't be self-sufficient when it comes to food."

The message was a key move in laying the groundwork for the president's trip to Ghana, where he will head later in the day. While he has relatives in Kenya - one of the African nations troubled by corruption - Obama has made clear why he is selecting Ghana.

"You've got there a functioning democracy, a president who is serious about reducing corruption, and you've seen significant economic growth," he said.

While the president's trip is focused on a broad array of international issues, he said he remains focused on the current centerpiece of his domestic agenda: health care reform. "It is my highest legislative priority over the next month," he said at the news conference.

Even with concerns expressed by Republicans and a group of conservative Democrats about the potential cost of his plan to overhaul the health care system, Obama said his timeline for getting legislation passed in Congress has not shifted. "I really want to get it done by the August recess," he said.

But after leaving the news conference in L'Aquila, the president had a more immediate task to focus on - an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

Initial pictures from the meeting showed both men smiling as cameras snapped away.

It was expected that the two would discuss sensitive topics on which the two disagree - including abortion rights.

The pope also, earlier this week, called on financial leaders to begin a "profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise."

Initial reports following Friday's meeting quoted Obama as saying that he is certain he and the pope will have good relations.

The Obama family - Christian, though not Catholic - had a moment with the pope together. The pontiff gave the first family a special blessing.

Filed under: G-8 • President Obama
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. southerncousin

    Now that he has committed to the G-8 that he will destroy what is left of the US economy and cost the remainder of the workforce more in taxes and fees. He heads happily off to Ghana on the Obama/Clinton apology tour to make fools of our country there too. It is a liberal wet dream.

    July 10, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    In the words of Michael Jackson:

    "Heal the world/Make it a better place/For you & for me & the entire human race"

    July 10, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Proud Member..Party of No

    lolol....emissions will be reduced by the year 2050. Hey, way to go Barry.....you drive a hard bargain. All you greenies must be thrilled by his hard stance on emissions.....lol man, this guy gets funnier by the day.

    July 10, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. B.H.

    What a -appalling sight- seeing Obama with the Pope in that "Gilded Palace". The place of obscene wealth and doing what for the people of Obamas next destination, Africa?

    July 10, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. phonix86

    Now that he accepted the decline of US influence in the G-8, offered the US taxpayer to subsidize China and India through cap & trade to combate a non-existant global warming threat, Obama jets off to Africa to make apologies on behalf of the United States.

    Please Obama, STAY IN AFRICA.

    July 10, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Fair is Fair

    "What we wanted was exactly what we got, which is a statement of unity and strong condemnation about the appalling treatment of peaceful protesters."

    Okay, Mr. Obama. Please explain why you didn't lead with a statement of strong condemnation about the appalling treatment of peaceful protesters when it first started?

    July 10, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Terry from Texas

    I read many cheap shots from Conservatives, as usual. What is missing, also as usual, is any indication of what action a Conservative president would take that would be better? Why? Because they have no idea what should be done or what the Conservative position would be?

    On the economy? You don't like the federal stimulus package. We now know that tax cuts on the rich will NOT result in an economic stimulus during bad times. They just put that extra money in a bank in the Carribbean. So WHAT do you recommend, Conservatives?

    On global warming? How about denying the problem even exists? You think it is laughable to impose emissions limits for 2050, so in what year would YOU demand that cars meet more stringent emissions standards and that electrical power stations use greener power sources? 2010? 2020? When?

    How about doing nothing and letting the free market work its wonders? That has worked nicely for us so far, hasn't it?

    July 10, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. mike

    This guy is clueless.

    July 10, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. J.G.

    J.P. – how NAIVE and uneducated are you? If you believe everything you hear then you SHOULD believe the truth (selective are we?). First off, he is going to Ghana, not Kenya. Secondly, you know full well he wasn't born in Kenya. His father was born in Kenya, a nation in Africa in case you are unfamiliar. The President was born in Hawaii, a state that is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that is comprised of a chain of islands formed by volcanoes.

    If you're going to dislike the President, then dislike him for a real reason, not some fabricated lie as to where he was born. Dislike his foreign policies, dislike his domestic policies, dislike his ideas for healthcare reform, but for God's sake, don't perpetuate something that isn't true like he was born in Africa. Is it fair to ask you if you think that because his middle name is Hussein he is Muslim (a peaceful religion sans a few radicals, but then again, that's every religion)? Which then begs to question that you likely think that this means he is a terrorist? This, too, is a fabrication and false on EVERY level. But I find it funny that all too often those that perpetuate this forget that he is not too distantly related to Dick Cheney. Hm. Food for thought? No, don't think about food, that's an anecdote that implies....oh nevermind...

    July 10, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. donttreadonme

    "What we wanted was exactly what we got, which is a statement of unity and strong condemnation about the appalling treatment of peaceful protesters." --------------------–

    I am certain that the peaceful protesters that got there heads busted or worse really wanted a little more than a statement of "strong condemnation."

    Maybe if we all hold our breaths they will stop building Nukes as well.
    Liberal fools they don't care what we say! G8/United Nations are all bark, no bite nonsense.

    July 10, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. BDavis

    His African heritage makes Obama the intelligent man he is. Africa, beautiful name, beautiful people.

    July 10, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Ann

    he understands in very personal terms.. liar

    July 10, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. rand

    @southern cousin. You sound like a class act and well informed. FYI your beloved Bush is the one that led us into this economical mess and the GOP has no solutions on a fix. Thank goodness Obama is doing something even if you disagree with it. By the way, it won't hurt any of us to become more green and if you have children (god forbid), leaving a cleaner world for them is a good thing.

    The apology tour??? You mean damage control tour. Bush/Cheney's bullying was what made fools of the U.S.

    July 10, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. obama can't find chechnya on a map

    You know what most people who comment on this board either from the left or from the right I just like to you all are full of crap seriously Obama hasn't done anything and then you blame bush the dems have the house and obama been in office for 6 months no more excuses liberals

    July 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Kysha, MO

    I'm so happy we have a president that we can trust, one who is thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate. We don't need someone like Bush who was playing with out lives, or rogues like Rowe, and bullies like Cheney.

    Obama will be our president for 8 years. You can count on it. I have yet to hear what the Republicans have to say. They whine, but don't do anything. Their theory didn't work for 8 long years, and they're still trying to push that trash down our throats.

    To all the GOPers for the last time-take a hike.

    July 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Madison, NY

    I wake up everyday and thank God for our president. Not only is he a good man, but a smart one. Somtheing we'r enot accustomed to, since that idiot Bush was in office.

    GEORGE W. BUSH = 7th Worst President In History.

    Now what do the GOPers have to say? That's what I thought, nothing.

    July 10, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Nadia, MS

    I wake up everyday and thank God for our president. Not only is he a good man, but a smart one. Somone we're not accustomed to, since that idiot Bush was in office.
    GEORGE W. BUSH = 7th Worst President In History.
    Now what do the GOPers have to say? That's what I thought, nothing.

    July 10, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Common Sense

    Now he is taking the Kool Aid to Africa...

    July 10, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA

    Fair is Fair,

    Explain why Bush has never appologized for putting US protesters in "Free Speech ZOne" areas.

    July 10, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. TCM

    @ J.G. –

    here's a tidbit for you....you know that green birth certificate the obamakins keep splashing up on the web? Well, that paper came out in 1985. How do I know that? I was stationed there, had a child there, he was one of the first to get the new "Green," cert. Prior to that, it was the old grey and white.....so, either that "green,' one's a forgery, a duplicate...or an outright lie. Since it doesn't say duplicate, and the hospital claimed it's real...well, then it's a lie. Additionally, he's never provided a vaulted copy....thus the pending lawsuits...

    Why do you think he's rubbing up to Sotomayor? He needs a Czar on the Supreme Court ! The problem with you libs is you take whatever Obama says and convert it to gospel... So, your criticism of JP is more "Change and Hope," rhetoric; unfounded and unsubstantiated...
    how'd he get into Pakistan in 1981? US citizens we'ren't allowed in Paki in 1981....and on his Occidental Foreign Student Aid form...he checked "non US citizen..." hmmm....I'd say he's got 'esplaining to do ....Lucy!

    July 10, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Darth Vadik, CA


    Not that I condone the Cathloc churches wealth, but their wealth was built on voluntary donations, not a REQUIRED 10% of someones paycheck or selling you Jesus on TV so they could build a megachurch.

    July 10, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Tulsa

    Terry from Texas,
    Well said.
    ...and these conservatives always accuse the left of being hate mongers. Go figure.

    July 10, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. In the West

    I agree with Terry. All the repugs can do is sit on their hands and whine like spoiled children. The only "alternatives" they present are ones which already failed under GW Bush. They love to slander their democratically-elected president. Patriots? More like traitors....

    July 10, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. Kuriya

    repulicans are pathetic.

    July 10, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. C.C. Independent

    BD Davis wrote:
    His African heritage makes Obama the intelligent man he is. Africa, beautiful name, beautiful people


    Good quote on that BD Davis. Love it. A respect to Africa is a respect to everyone in the world.

    July 10, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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