Notebook From Summit of Eight
COLOGNE, Germany (AP) _ If the Summit of Eight can’t generate enough excitement in this city, a small collection of rock legends certainly can.
As the leaders of seven leading industrialized nations and Russia met here Friday, the Rolling Stones arrived to conclude their ``Bridges to Babylon″ tour. And U2 frontman Bono planned to wrap a human chain around downtown Cologne.
Bono was to arrive Saturday in hopes of delivering a petition to G-8 leaders urging debt forgiveness for poor countries. The Irish rocker, bandmate The Edge and other musicians also announced plans to be part of the human chain in support of debt relief. Organizers expect 70,000 people.
``Anyone who wants to come please join us,″ Bono said in a statement. ``It’s going to be lots of fun.″
The Stones took over an entire hotel here and began preparing to perform Friday night just across the border in Landgraf, Netherlands. The final show of their 18-month tour is in Cologne on Sunday.
It wasn’t certain Friday whether any of the G-8 leaders would attend Sunday’s concert. Aides said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder _ a Stones fan who has seen them perform live once _ has a full schedule.
Tell us again, Mr. President: What do you think about that gun vote?
Meeting in a cozy hotel library with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, President Clinton tried to convey for news cameras _ and the audience back home _ his fury over losing a House vote on gun control.
But he was drowned out by the sing-song trill of _ not one _ but two, three, and then four cellular phones ringing in the pockets of a Japanese official and several White House aides.
TV producers complained about bad audio, and three hours later, Clinton tried again during his picture-taking session with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson repeated his question _ and put out advance word about it so, as he said, his press colleagues wouldn’t think he was going senile.
The White House pitched in, too, posting a giant, hand-scrawled sign outside Clinton’s meeting room: ``TURN OFF PAGERS/CELL PHONES!″
If G-8 leaders stare at the floor during dinner Friday night at the Germano-Roman Museum, it’s no reflection on the food.
Organizers have set a giant acrylic table over a famous Roman floor mosaic dating back to A.D. 220. The 1.5 million tiny stones portray scenes from the life of Dionysius, the Roman god of wine and pleasure.
On the walls, the leaders will see color-saturated American abstract paintings, a sweep of dripping, brilliant orange by Morris Louis and pulsating squares of brown and green by Marc Rothko.
The food should also be Dionysian. Chef Dieter Kaufmann prepared a parfait of sturgeon with beluga caviar, turbot in a potato crust with chanterelle mushrooms, pigeon breast on white cabbage with black truffles in a foam of potato, a fruit dessert and German wine.
And what do Cologne residents think about having so many famous faces in their normally sleepy city?
``If we can survive the Romans, we can survive this,″ says local comic and cabaret artist Konrad Beikircher.
The city founded on the banks of the Rhine River by Roman Emperor Claudius in A.D. 50 has grown to be Germany’s fourth largest, with 1 million people.
No summit is complete without a welcome package for the thousands of journalists and lobbyists that descend on such events. In the case of the G-8, host Germany abandoned the ubiquitous music CD for a message: safe sex.
``We do this as part of the government’s AIDS-awareness program,″ said Nicole Jondral, a City of Cologne worker handing out toiletry bags containing suntan lotion, breath mints, tissues and a pair of condoms in a purple box.
``You know, when a lot of people come together at an event like this in such large numbers ... Well, you know. You just never know what happens,″ said Ms. Jondral, speaking in the lobby of a massive tented media center in central Cologne.
In all, 5,000 welcome kits were distributed to journalists.
``So far we have gotten a very positive reaction,″ Ms. Jondral said.