G7 Summit: Clinton the debutant takes a bow on world stage: For the first time leading industrial nations are ready to admit that the world recovery is on shaky ground

WASHINGTON - Will it be the Clinton who worries his allies, inexperienced, undisciplined and indecisive? Or will Tokyo be a showcase for the other Clinton, only rarely seen during these first rocky months of his presidency: charming, with an intellectual breadth and grasp of contemporary issues unrivalled by any of his peers? writes Rupert Cornwell.

In terms of concrete achievement, the G7 summit promises to be as unremarkable as most of its predecessors. But the atmospherics are another matter. President Clinton did venture out of the US once, for his Vancouver summit with Boris Yeltsin. Most of those present in Toyko have already come to Washington to make a first acquaintance. But G7 will be the real international debut of this 46-year-old who, for all his missteps, embodies America's capacity for change. Apprehensive yet intrigued, the world is watching.

In fact, from a White House viewpoint, the summit now looks a more promising platform than it did even a month ago. Mr Clinton's domestic performance has improved. Not only is he belatedly starting to acquire the aura of the presidency; his ambitious deficit-reduction package is only one step away from the statute book; other parts of his legislative programme are, however erratically, moving ahead. His domestic approval rating is still low, but well above most of his fellow summiteers. And, if anything, it is climbing.

The modified agenda for G7 also suits Mr Clinton. No one has the stomach to reopen the Bosnia issue, where Mr Clinton's leadership this spring seemed most wanting. Instead, as Lloyd Bentsen, his Treasury Secretary, declared this week, the surprise of the summit is that for once it is all about economics.

The President's hand is strong. True, little progress is expected on the trade deadlock with Japan, but the demise of the Miyazawa government is a timely excuse. On financial assistance for Russia, whose crisis Mr Clinton claims dwarfs Somalia, even Bosnia, he has made the running. The White House has been busy portraying the dollars 2bn (pounds 1.3bn) package, including dollars 1.5bn of IMF money, which is likely to be approved in Tokyo, as a personal success.

His decision to extend the nuclear testing moratorium by at least 12 months gives him a moral platform from which to point the world in the direction of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Even the crisis in Haiti, which has caused so much embarrassment, looks close to solution.

In economics too, he holds the high ground. The President will warn that America's slow recovery is not enough to haul the rest of the world out of recession. He will press Germany to make further interest rate cuts, seek more domestic stimulus from Japan and insist that Europe make concessions to permit a new Gatt deal.

Washington has made identical demands at several previous summits. But these have been politely rebuffed with reminders about the untackled US budget deficit. For the first time Mr Clinton will claim he is actually doing something to lower it, to the tune of dollars 500bn over the next five years.

Yesterday President Clinton called for a special G7 meeting at Camp David to discuss remedies for unemployment in industrialised countries. 'I have asked my top economics and labour advisers to invite their counterparts from the leading industrialised nations to a meeting in the coming months,' the President said during a stopover in San Francisco on his way to Tokyo.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions