Friday, September 25, 2009

Pittsburgh G-20 Summit Day Two Starts Off With a Bang - Obama Challenges Iran Over Secret Nuclear Fuel Plant

President Obama launched Day Two of the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit by joining the leaders of France and Great Britain in strongly criticizing Iran for building a secret underground plant to produce nuclear fuel and hiding it from international weapons inspectors.

Speaking to reporters in Pittsburgh, Obama said the Iranian nuclear fuel production activity "is inconsistent with a peaceful (nuclear) program. Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow."

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, appearing with the President, said Iran had two months to comply with international demands or face increased sanctions.

"The level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the entire international community," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, standing next to Obama. "The international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand."

9:30 a.m. - The Obama-Sarkozy-Brown press conference got the Friday session off to a quick start after a relatively peaceful Day One. The media checkpoint at Mellon Arena was far more crowded this morning, full of international media speaking in many languages. The process took a little longer than Day One, but with equal calm and professionalism.

The atmosphere in the media center is noticeably more lively, as reporters anticipate meetings, briefings and press conferences over the course of the day. President Obama is expected to make his announcement at the close of the plenary session, probably around 3 p.m.

11:15 – Interrupting the low-level chatter in the international media center was a flash of camera lights and a cluster of reporters. Brazil’s Ambassador to the United States Antônio Patriota, and main international advisor for the president of Brazil, Marco Aurelio Garcia, had arrived to answer questions, in Spanish and Portuguese, about the world economy and the breaking story of the Iran nuclear production program.

Members of the world media say they are impressed with what they have seen of Pittsburgh. During this morning's ride to the Convention Center from the media screening area at Mellon Arena, Steve Holland of the Reuters Washington Bureau was engaged in conversation by Andy Masich, Heinz History Center President & CEO.

"It's a really nice town," Holland said. "You've done a really nice job."

Holland's impressions reflect that of many other international reporters in the past few days.

Liu Li of the Shanghai Oriental Morning Post has spent the past week in Pittsburgh, interviewing many companies, organizations and members of the local Chinese community. She said she loves the trees and the parks and the rivers. "And the people are so friendly!"

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