Commonwealth leaders were welcomed by bagpipes on Saturday (11 June) when they arrived at the isolated luxury golfing hotel Gleneagles in Scotland for a weekend of informal talks.
Commonwealth leaders were welcomed by bagpipes on Saturday (11 June) when they arrived at the isolated luxury golfing hotel Gleneagles in Scotland for a weekend of informal talks. They were taking a break away from their summit conference in London.
SYNOPSIS: Nothing was spared to make the Commonwealth leaders comfortable at Gleneagles. The weekend cost GBP38,000 -- and the British Government is paying for it. A special seven-foot long bed was brought in for the tallest visitor -- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who's 6ft 7ins (about two metres) tall.
The Gleneagles meeting was planed as a relaxed affair, but British Prime Minister James Callaghan said it wasn't all play. His first meeting with another Commonwealth leader on Sunday (12 June) was scheduled for 7.30 am.
Gleneagles is about 60 miles (90 km) north of Edinburgh, and it's set in some of the finest scenery in Scotland. A small army of police and security men brought the total of hotel guests to 200. From the moment the leaders stepped into Gleneagles, they were pampered. A team of 20 chefs was there to cater for their culinary whims, and the guests were invited to play squash, tennis and croquet, or go swimming or bowling. Australia's Mr Fraser wanted to go salmon fishing on the second day of his stay -- but fishing isn't allowed in Scotland on Sunday's, so he couldn't. The guests were sampling local delicacies like salmon, sea trout, duckling and Scottish lamb, and they saw Scottish dancing and pipe band parades.
But, as Mr. Callaghan said, it wasn't all recreation. A major feature of the talks at Gleneagles was the highly complex causes of the growing poverty crisis. The Commonwealth leaders were pressing their industrialised partners to strike out for a brave new order giving poor nations a greater share of the world's wealth. The leaders were also trying to define a common approach to the emotionally-charged issue of sporting links with South Africa -- a quarrel that is threatening the 1978 Commonwealth games in Edmonton, Canada. Many leaders feel depressed over international economic prospects for the developing countries, which their experts believe will not improve. The experts don't think there's much hope of closing the huge gap between the rich and the poor nations. On-Wednesday (15 June), the conference will end -- probably with a joint communique stressing two major themes: Rhodesia and other racial problems in Southern Africa, and the poverty gulf in the world economy. A six-Country draft agreement -- worked out in a group, including Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau -- is expected to clear the way for non-white countries to call off their threatened boycott of the Commonwealth Games.