Harper and Obama walk and talk at close of G8

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland – Prime Minister Stephen Harper chatted briefly with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday as the Group of Eight summit came to a close.

The encounter — which lasted between 10 and 12 minutes — came after all the G8 leaders posed for a group photograph and returned inside the lakeside Lough Erne resort in Northern Ireland. Harper and Obama came back out and walked along a golf cart path as they made their way along a wooden walkway extension to the lake.

Official cameras and a security detail escorted the two North American leaders as they talked. They walked back past the cameras and out of sight before turning back and returning to the leaders’ lounge.

The Harper-Obama private discussion came the morning after a private dinner for the leaders of eight wealthy countries.

Reports in the British press say the other G8 leaders pressured Russian President Vladimir Putin at the dinner to agree to a joint statement condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime for attacking rebels with chemical weapons.

Russia has refused to acknowledge that chemical weapons have been used. The United States, meanwhile, claims to have proof the Assad regime attacked its foes with chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin.

According to a tweet by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the talks took place over a meal that included Kilkeel crab, prawn and avocado salad; roast fillet and braised shin of Kettyle beef with violet artichokes; Comber new potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

The leaders finished their meal with apple crumble with Bushmils whisky custard and a selection of cheeses from the British Isles.

The G8 wraps up Tuesday afternoon, and the leaders are expected to return to their home countries with a promise to take action to combat tax evasion. They are scheduled to hold talks on tax issues before lunch, which will include discussion of a British proposal that would force companies to reveal who actually owns them and create a registry of corporate ownership.

Earlier Tuesday, the leaders met to discuss counterterrorism measures in Africa’s Sahel region, a vast swath of the continent that runs from Senegal eastward to Sudan. Cameron has also proposed a joint statement by the G8 that they will not pay ransoms to terrorist kidnappers.

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