Gleneagles to host G8 conference in 2005

Gleneagles, the five-star hotel in Scotland famed for its world-class golf courses, is to host the next G8 conference.

Gleneagles, the five-star hotel in Scotland famed for its world-class golf courses, is to host the next G8 conference.

Tony Blair was planning to use his end-of-conference briefing at this year's G8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia, to announce that leaders of the world's eight leading industrialised nations will meet next year at the famous golfing hotel near the town of Auchterarder, Perthshire.

The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, stole a march on Mr Blair by informing the Italian press that the leaders had all been invited to Scotland. Mr Berlusconi said Mr Blair told them: "You will all have to wear kilts."

The resort, once owned by British Rail, was chosen because it is isolated, which will make it easier to keep protesters away.

It is estimated that the cost of the security operation at Gleneagles could run as high as £150m.

Yesterday an anarchist group's website published ideas for disrupting the event. One anti-capitalist campaigner suggested closing down Edinburgh airport and the Forth Bridge. Another said: "I would stop all cars going north or south. We have two bridges and two or three main roads to the west. It can be done."

Gleneagles opened in 1924 and, according to its own website, it became known as "a riviera in the Highlands" and rather grandly as the "eighth wonder of the world".

In the 1950s, the hotel became a fixed part of high society's calendar - after the London "season", it was yachting at Cowes, polo at Deauville and golf and grouse shooting at Gleneagles.

In 1993, the £5.9m PGA Centenary Course, designed by the American golfer Jack Nicklaus, opened alongside the renowned King's and Queen's courses.

Senior British officials disclosed that the Prime Minister will make Africa and global warming the twin priorities for the British G8 summit.

Yesterday, the G8 leaders agreed a range of measures to ease the African debt burden and train 75,000 African soldiers to bring peace to countries reduced to abject poverty by civil wars.

The threatened attacks by anarchists in Sea Island failed to materialise, leaving an estimated 20,000 police, guards and special forces all armed to the teeth with little to do but check security passes all week. There were armed patrol boats in the river, Patriot ground-to-air missiles on the beaches, and F-16 fighters launched from an aircraft carrier off the southern coast of America. But virtually no protesters turned up in the billionaires' coastal resort where the leaders - from the US, Britain, Canada, Japan, Russia, France, Germany and Italy - have been staying in beach houses.

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