World press has trackside view of G8 summit

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2011 3:48 PM
World press has trackside view of G8 summit

Reporters covering this year's G8 summit got a trackside view for the event. Organizers have set the thousand-seat press center smack along the rail of Deauville's tres chic La Touques thoroughbred racecourse.

The track hosts race meetings year-round but the summer season won't kick off until late June.

This weekend's meeting will, however, see thundering stampedes of reporters chasing the latest scoop on the leaders' talks.

Odds say the heads of France, Britain, United States and the other G8 countries will seek to rally behind a common European candidate to take over the International Monetary Fund.

Europe's favorite Christine Lagarde of France is back in Paris, busy preparing her own race around the world to drum up support for her bid to take over the IMF from its jailed former boss, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Reporters wanting to take in the track's annual highlight, the Deauville Grand Prix, will have to come back in late August. Bets are open on whether Lagarde will have crossed the finish line first in her race by then.

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BABY BUMP: If you've got it flaunt it.

That's what France's First Lady, ex-model and pop singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy decided to do Thursday, showing off her baby bump for the first time to lunch guests on the sidelines of the G-8 summit.

The First Lady opened her jacket and slid her hands over her belly, showing off the long-rumored pregnancy.

Her guests, the spouses of world leaders from G8 countries, smiled and congratulated her. Press monitoring the proceedings on a video screen in the thousand-seat press center nearby gasped and hooted.

Bruni-Sarkozy had invited her guests for lunch at the Villa Strassburger, a 1907 Normandy manor house that once belonged to a wealthy American newspaper magnate and thoroughbred racehorse breeder, Beaver Strassburger.

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LE PRESIDENT OBAMA: "Bonjour" said the president as he made his way on foot to the summit's first session.

But those words didn't roll off the tongue of the Frenchman who is playing host to two days of meetings. Instead, they came from the American, Barack Obama.

Obama pointed and waved as he walked down a street accompanied by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso. When a French photographer shouted, "Mr. President," Obama replied with a wave, a smile and a "bonjour."

Unusual but not unprecedented for a Group of Eight summit, Obama also stopped to shake hands with onlookers held behind metal barricades. Many of those waiting for a glimpse of Obama wore blue plastic ponchos to stay dry under darkened skies that threatened to rain on this blustery seaside town.

"Hello. Good to see you. How are you," Obama said, using both hands to shake hands. One man shouted "congratulations" to Obama, though it was unclear what for.

Pouring rain began to fall shortly after the leaders had headed indoors.

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Darlene Superville in Washington, DC contributed to this report.