GLENEAGLES, Scotland - The London bombings created a crisis atmosphere yesterday at the Group of Eight summit, where leaders of the world's major industrial nations gamely sought to resolve differences over climate change and other global challenges.
The attacks occurred far from the rolling hills of Perthshire, Scotland, the bucolic site of the three-day summit, but their reverberations were strong enough to slow efforts to forge final agreements before the scheduled close of business this afternoon.
On at least one issue, however, the tragedy had a galvanizing effect: The eight leaders issued a joint declaration denouncing the bombing perpetrators and expressing solidarity with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the conference host.
"We condemn utterly these barbaric attacks," the members said in a statement endorsed by the leaders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia. Representatives of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, who were attending the sessions to discuss potential areas of collaboration, also signed it.
"We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values," the signers said. "Nor will we allow it to stop the work of this summit. We will continue our deliberations in the interests of a better world."
The show of resolve and sense of outrage were mirrored in statements and comments by individual members, including President Bush, who said news accounts of the carnage were particularly disturbing.
"The contrast between what we've seen on the TV screens here, what's taking place in London and what's taking place here, is incredibly vivid to me," Bush said. "On the one hand, you've got people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, and working on ways to have a clean environment. On the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people."
Officials at the summit said Bush and the other G-8 leaders were informed of the attacks by Blair as they were preparing to convene a 10 a.m. meeting to discuss climate change and energy consumption.
"Mr. Blair came in and sat down and gave us the information he had at that time," said Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. "Then we went on the agenda. We were not going to show that the terrorists could manipulate the agenda."
The session was suspended temporarily so leaders could consult with their governments about the attacks. Bush returned to his hotel suite, where advisers briefed him on what was known about the bombings. He then conducted a videoconference with homeland security and national security officials in Washington.
"The president wanted to make sure that all appropriate agencies were responding," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "He wanted to make sure that appropriate agencies were acting and taking any necessary precautions."
The group meeting resumed shortly after noon, McClellan said.
Later in the day, a planned group photo shoot was canceled because Blair had flown by helicopter to London to oversee his government's initial response to the attacks.
The summit schedule was otherwise unchanged, officials said, and Blair returned to Gleneagles late yesterday.
Still, U.S. and G-8 officials acknowledged privately the bombings had made it difficult to stay focused on the nuances of proposed communiquM-is articulating consensus views on poverty in Africa, greenhouse gas emissions, rising energy consumption, barriers to trade and other global challenges.
Yet some suggested the attacks had increased the odds of resolving differences on unsettled issues, including climate change, before the summit ended today.
As the summit host, Blair had placed two issues at the top of the agenda: increasing international aid to Africa and renewing efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants believed to contribute to the gradual warming of the Earth's surface.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.