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Lake Geneva to host G-8 leaders in 2003

G-8 summit organisers hope the resort of Evian-les-Bains - which sits on the French side of Lake Geneva - will create a relaxed and informal atmosphere for the world's most powerful leaders.

The next summit of the Group of Eight most industrialised nations will take place on Lake Geneva, opposite the Swiss city of Lausanne.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, has chosen Evian-les-Bains as the host town for next year’s G-8 summit.

Evian, which is famous for its health spas and bottled water, is nestled on the French side of Lake Geneva.

However, Switzerland is likely to become heavily involved in the summit – not only because of its geographic proximity – but because Geneva’s Cointrin airport will play a key role as the nearest major transport hub.

Talks between France and Switzerland

A spokesman for the Swiss president, Kaspar Villiger, said Chirac had spoken with his Swiss counterpart by telephone asking for organisational and security cooperation.

The summit – which is scheduled for early June 2003 – is likely to have an impact on Switzerland’s military, police and judicial authorities.

It is also set to generate significant tourism spin-offs as the high-powered G-8 leaders, their entourages, the media and other observers will only be a short boat-hop away from Lausanne, Montreux and Geneva.

Alongside the expected positive consequences of extra bookings for hotels and restaurants around the lake, authorities will be anxious to avoid a repeat of the G-8 summit held in the Italian city of Genoa over a year ago.

The Genoa meeting is remembered for little else than the negative headlines generated after Italian police shot dead a 23-year-old anti-globalisation protester.

Relaxed and comfortable

By contrast, the French government hopes to capture the relaxed and informal atmosphere of the first G-8 summit, held in Rambouillet outside Paris in 1975, as well as this year’s gathering in the Canadian Rockies.

“The president chose Evian for its magnificent backdrop and a setting favourable to the deliberation of chiefs of state and governments,” a spokesman for Chirac said.

G-8 summits bring together leaders of some of the world’s biggest economies. Its members are Canada, the United States, Russia, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The European Union also participates.

Final dates for the conference have not been finalised. However, the conference is likely to be held on June 1-2, and probably June 3.

More than just bottled water

Evian, which sits below the French Alps on the shores of what the French call Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), is home to some 7,500 residents.

The town gives its name to the world-famous water brand, and can be reached by boat from Lausanne in around 30 minutes or by road from Geneva, some 45 kilometres away.

swissinfo with agencies

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