G-8 Upbeat On World Economy

French President Jacques Chirac, second left, shares a word with U.S. President George W. Bush, third left, during a group photo at the G8 summit in Evian, France, Monday June 2, 2003. Other G8 members are from left to right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
World leaders projected confidence Monday they will turn around their weak economies and pledged joint cooperation on a host of global issues from terrorism to the need for a coordinated effort to rebuild Iraq.

The leaders at the annual Group of Eight summit said they saw a number of hopeful signs that the current economic troubles — including a sluggish rebound in the United States and threats of new recessions in Europe and Japan — would soon be replaced by stronger growth worldwide.

They issued a number of joint statements on the summit's second day, including pledges to work together to resolve a number of roadblocks that are threatening to derail the current round of global trade talks.

The leaders of the G-8 — composed of the world's seven wealthiest nations and Russia — pledged to promote good corporate business practices in their own countries in response to a wave of corporate scandals over the past year.

"We commit to pursue with strong resolve our fight to further improve the integrity of the international economy," the G-8 leaders said in one of the joint declarations.

Increased competition due to globalization was forcing all countries to accept the need to reform, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"There is a general recognition that if we don't change and reform our economies quickly we are not going to be able to survive with the same living standards in the modern world," Blair said.

On terrorism, the group issued an action plan aimed at keeping portable surface-to-air missiles capable of bringing down commercial jetliners out of the hands of terrorists and also pledged greater efforts to halt the spread of nuclear, chemical and other weapons of mass destruction.

All leaders asserted they were putting divisions over Iraq behind them.

The rift was especially deep between President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac, who led the opposition to the U.S.-led war.

The two leaders staged a reconciliation on a terrace outside a hotel where world leaders were holding their annual summit. The French president escorted Mr. Bush to a table and put his hand on Mr. Bush's shoulder. They ended the session with a hand on one another's back.

"I know there are a lot of people in both our countries wondering whether or not we can actually sit down and have a comfortable conversation. And the answer is absolutely," Mr. Bush said, with Chirac standing next to him. Chirac, who was having the translation whispered into his ear, smiled and nodded.

Mr. Bush left the summit in the afternoon to engage in an intense round of diplomacy with leaders of Arab countries and Israel and try to advance Middle East peace talks.

In contrast to the harmony inside the meetings, riot police fought pitched battles into the night Monday with thousands of protesters intent on destruction and looting in nearby Geneva.

Lausanne, Geneva and the French town of Annemass, the main flashpoints of the weekend demonstrations, were quiet on Monday, although police detained eight Greenpeace activists who broke through tight security and unfurled anti-G-8 banners on Lake Geneva.

The protesters see the G-8 as part of an alliance of international organizations — including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund — that respond to the needs of powerful corporations rather than poor people in developing countries.