G-8 summit to kick off to discuss world economy, Syria

The leaders of the Group of Eight countries are set to gather for a summit in Northern Ireland on Monday to discuss ways to spur world growth, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aiming to explain his economic policies to his fellow leaders and make them an international commitment.

Syria, where more than two years of civil war has sparked a humanitarian crisis, is expected to top the agenda on regional affairs to be discussed by the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States the same day.

Speaking to reporters in Belfast before heading off to the Lough Erne golf resort, this year's venue of the annual G-8 summit, Abe said he will convey to his fellow leaders his determination to end nearly two decades of deflation and revive Japan's economy through his three-pronged approach, dubbed "Abenomics."

"I will show our will to grow the Japanese economy through this policy and contribute to the world economy," Abe said, noting that Japan has also been requested to explain the "'three-arrow' policy that we are implementing."

The "three arrows" represent aggressive monetary policy, flexible fiscal spending and a growth strategy centered on deregulation and tax breaks on business investment.

Abe is also expected to explain Tokyo's goal of reducing the ratio of Japan's public debt to gross domestic product in a stable manner and its plan to raise the nation's sales tax from next April depending on economic conditions.

G-8 leaders are set to discuss ways to ensure economic growth and employment, while at the same time seeking to put the fiscal house in order, according to Japanese officials.

On Syria and North Korea, two of the main topics expected during a session on regional affairs, Abe said, "It's important to deal with security situations in a unified manner by talking frankly with each other, particularly among leaders."

During the two-day meeting, the leaders are also expected to address counterterrorism efforts in northern and western Africa following the Algerian hostage standoff in January, tax avoidance by multinational corporations, efforts to resist trade protectionism, and transparency in business transactions before wrapping up with a leaders' declaration on Tuesday.

On the sidelines of the G-8 summit on Monday, Abe is scheduled to meet bilaterally with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But he does not plan to sit down with U.S. President Barack Obama or French President Francois Hollande for bilateral talks during the summit as Abe recently spoke with Obama by phone and met with Hollande during his trip to Japan, according to the officials.

Abe, who moved to Lough Erne from Belfast in the morning, is expected to hold talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on the fringes later Monday.

This year's summit is the second such G-8 leaders' meeting for Abe, who became prime minister last December for the second time. He attended the 2007 summit in Heiligendamm in Germany when he served as prime minister for a year until September 2007.