L'AQUILA, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - The leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations began their summit in the Italian town of L'Aquila on Wednesday with a working lunch.
The talks in the central Italian town, devastated by an earthquake in April, are set to focus on the global economic crisis, climate change, food security, and potential international threats including Iran and North Korea.
The leaders of the eight countries - the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy - have been joined by over a dozen other heads of state.
The working lunch, which organizers say features "patriotic" local cuisine, will be followed by two meetings on global issues. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden, which hosts the rotating EU presidency, will attend.
The summit is being held at the Guardia di Finanza School near L'Aquila, just 3 km from a camp accommodating 1,062 people evacuated after the powerful quake that battered the region of Abruzzo in early April, killing almost 300 people.
Italy's decision to move the summit to L'Aquila, to boost local reconstruction, has come under widespread criticism, as the aftershocks continue. The summit host, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has also come under pressure in the Western media over the last-minute organization of the summit, delays to rebuilding work in the quake-hit province, and failure to fulfill previous summit pledges for foreign aid.
Italian seismologists have registered 15 tremors with magnitudes ranging from 1 to 2.8 on the Richter scale since midnight, according to the Italian ANSA news agency.
The summit stands out for the modest living conditions provided for world leaders.
The leaders have been accommodated in premises which from the outside resemble barracks, and are said to have air conditioners as the only "luxury" items. Each building is shared by two heads of state. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, for example, is sharing with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The presidents have one two-room apartment each.
Each building is equipped with seismic sensors, and emergency officers are on round-the-clock duty in the compound. Italian authorities have contingency plans in place for evacuating the summit participants to Rome in the event of a new quake.
The summit has received 40 delegations, including representatives of 29 countries and 11 international organizations. Chinese leader Hu Jintao was forced to abandon the summit and return home due to riots in the city of Urumqi. His absence is likely to further weaken any tentative deals that may be reached on greenhouse gas reductions.