Leaders of the world's eight major industrial countries have opened their annual summit in northern Germany, amid tensions between the United States and Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted her colleagues in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm as they arrived for the opening dinner Wednesday evening.
Earlier, U.S. President George Bush played down the importance of Russian President Vladimir Putin's threat to re-target missiles against Europe, telling reporters there is no need for a U.S. military response. Mr. Bush said "Russia is not an enemy. We are not at war with Russia," and he said that country is not a military threat.
Earlier this week, Mr. Putin warned that his country could re-target its missiles in response to U.S. plans for deploying an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
U.S. officials say Russia's huge arsenal can easily overwhelm the planned 10-missile defense system and insist it is designed to deal with threats from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.
The U.S. and Russian presidents are expected to discuss the issue at a private meeting Thursday.
At a pre-summit meeting, Mr. Bush and Chancellor Merkel expressed optimism over chances for agreement on such issues as aid to Africa and dealing with climate change.
Mrs. Merkel wants the world's eight major industrialized nations to agree to cut greenhouse gases blamed for global warming in half by the year 2050. But a Bush administration official today stressed that the U.S. will not agree to any targets or timetables on the issue at the G8 summit.
Last week, President Bush called for the world's top 15 greenhouse gas producers to set a goal by the end of 2008 to cut emissions.
The G8 members are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Leaders from China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and a number of African countries will also attend.