US President Barack Obama explains the lipstick on his collar after being kissed by an attendee before an event in the East Room of the White House May 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama attend the event to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Syria's raging civil war was set to top the agenda at the Group of Eight
summit in Northern Ireland starting on Monday, with President Barack
Obama trying to get Russia's Vladimir Putin, Syria's most powerful ally,
to help bring Bashar Assad to the negotiating table.
leaders' first private face-to-face meeting in about a year comes after
Obama angered Moscow by authorizing American military support for the
Putin criticized the West's position during talks
with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron on the eve of the summit,
saying the rebels were cannibals.
"I think you will not deny that
one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their
enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines, in front of the
public and cameras," Putin said at a tense joint news conference with
Cameron on Sunday.
Russia, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and the United States are members of the G-8.
delivered a speech on sustaining Catholic-Protestant reconciliation 15
years on from the U.S.-brokered Good Friday peace accord on Monday
morning in Belfast's Waterfront Hall, a glass-fronted building that
would never have been built during the city's long era of car bombs that
ended with a 1997 Irish Republican Army cease-fire.
speech, Obama said that the peace achieved in Northern Ireland - part of
the United Kingdom, unlike the Republic of Ireland just south of the
border -- after decades of violence known as the Troubles was an example
for those struggling to end violence around the world.
these shores right now in scattered corners of the world there are
people living in the grip of conflict, ethnic conflict, religious
conflict, tribal conflicts," he said. "And they are groping for a way
to find a way to discover how to move beyond the heavy hand of history
-- to put aside the violence.... And they're wondering perhaps if
Northern Ireland can achieve peace we can too. So you're their blueprint
The G-8 summit was being held just minutes from the
town of Enniskillen, a small town with a painful past. In 1987,
militants belonging to the Irish Republican Army bombed the town's
annual memorial ceremony for British war veterans. The attack killed 11
people and injured 63.
A week after Edward Snowden revealed
himself as the source of one of the biggest-ever intelligence leaks,
it's assumed he's still in Hong Kong -- and in hiding. NBC's Ian
In a sign of how much has changed, last year
Queen Elizabeth made history by walking across the town's narrow high
street between the Protestant and Catholic churches which face one
another, 25th anniversary of the bombing. It was the first time the
queen had ever set foot in a Catholic church on the island of Ireland.
Obama stressed that maintaining the peace was a constant struggle:
you are a good neighbor to someone from the other side of past battles
-- that's up to you. Whether you treat them with the dignity and respect
they deserve -- that's up to you. Whether you let your kids play with
kids who attend a different church -- that's your decision. Whether you
take a stand against violence and hatred, and tell extremists on both
sides that no matter how many times they attack the peace, they will not
succeed -- that is in your hands. And whether you reach your own
outstretched hand across dividing lines, across peace walls, to build
trust in a spirit of respect -- that's up to you."
traveling with his wife Michelle, who spoke before him in Belfast, and
their two daughters. In the afternoon, he was set to meet with Cameron
ahead of the summit itself. Later, the President was to meet with
European Union leaders to discuss trade issues.
British newspaper reported Britain intercepted telephone calls and
monitored computers used by foreign ministers taking part in two
high-level international meetings.
As Obama heads to Northern
Ireland for the G-8 summit, so will thousands of anti-capitalist
demonstrators, posing a challenge for police used to high security.
NBC's Keir Simmons reports.
The Guardian said some delegates from
countries in the Group of 20 -- which comprises top economies around
the world -- used Internet cafes that had been set up by British
intelligence agencies to read their emails in London in 2009. The report
was published hours before leaders of the G-8 countries -- all of which
are in the G-20 -- started the Northern Ireland summit.
this month, the newspaper reported details of surveillance by the
National Security Agency (NSA) of phone records and Internet data in the
U.S. The newspaper said the evidence was contained in documents that
were leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Ireland's police appear to be leaving little to chance in ensuring
security around the Lough Erne resort just outside Enniskillen, County
Fermanagh. More than 3,500 officers were drafted in from mainland
Britain to Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of officers on
duty each day of the summit to 8,000.
Army engineers helped set up steel fences and coiled razor wire for miles around the resort's lone road entrance.
Only 2,000 protesters were expected to travel to the remote resort for Monday night's main planned demonstration.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By F. Brinley Bruton, Staff Writer, NBC News