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Obama and Gaddafi shake hands at G8 dinner

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Obama and Gaddafi shake hands at G8 dinner

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They are images one could barely have imagined until recently – a warm handshake between an American President and Muammar Gaddafi.

Ronald Reagan once called the Libyan leader the “mad dog of the Middle East.” But Washington’s ties with Tripoli have thawed considerably in recent years. And, as world leaders gathered for a summit dinner, Barack Obama was only separated from Gaddafi by their Italian host, Silvio Berlusconi. On climate change, the US President said the world had made “important strides.” But the Group of Eight failed to persuade top emitter China and India to join in a push to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. The world’s major economies agreed to complete the long-stalled Doha trade talks in 2010. And there were further calls for reform of the rich man’s club. With developing nations attending, the suggestion is that they should be formally invited to merge with the G8, creating a G14.