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G8 Partners Put Out by Britain's Hefty Summit Bill

Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 | 1:54 AM ET
Tanya Talaga | Toronto Star | Getty Images

Two days of accommodation at a lakeside golf hotel in Northern Ireland don't come cheap - and Britain has irritated its fellow Group of Eight states by sending them hefty advance bills for the summit it is hosting there.

In charging 1,000 pounds ($1,600) for each delegate apart from the leader and a chief adviser, Britain says it is only doing what other G8 host countries have done.

But other members of the club of wealthy nations, some of whom may send a support staff of 12-15 people, see it differently.

"As far as we know, this has never happened before," said an official from one European delegation, adding that London had only mentioned the issue of delegate fees a few days ago.

"It's unprecedented and hasn't been handled very well. The Japanese and Americans are saying: 'Hold on a minute, this hasn't been budgeted for'. There's some outrage."

An official from another delegation said Britain was doing itself no favours by being seen to "profit" from holding the G8 - an event that could boost the local economy to the tune of 40 million pounds, according to research carried out for Barclays Bank.

"A lot of people are uneasy with this," he said.

A spokesperson for the British government defended the arrangements for the gathering, taking place on June 17-18 at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen:

"It would be unprecedented for a G8 nation to foot the bill for the entire cost of delegations attending a Summit.

"We are paying for the accommodation of each G8 leader and their lead official. That's what we did at Gleneagles (where Britain hosted a G8 summit in 2005). And it's more than previous summits - for example, at the G8 summit hosted by France in 2011 only the cost of accommodation for the leader was met by the hosts."

Any perceived difference was "an administrative one", the spokesperson added.

"Delegations have been asked to settle the costs for accommodation and transport directly with us, and that's because we secured these early to ensure we could meet the needs of our visitors."

The G8 brings together Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, while the European Union also attends the meeting, sending two representatives.

The summits have been held every year since 1975, when six countries first got together in Rambouillet, France.