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Emanuel glosses over Chicago's G-8 loss

(MCT) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered little insight Wednesday into why President Barack Obama pulled the May G-8 summit from Chicago and declined to say if he knew his former boss had for some time been considering moving the meeting to Camp David.

Instead, Emanuel deferred to Obama, who said this week that aides suggested leaders of the Group of Eight nations would be more comfortable in the intimate and informal setting of the presidential retreat in the Maryland woods.

"There's really not more for me to add," Emanuel said. "For the G-8 part, he is looking for a different atmosphere to host those leaders that Camp David can offer for what he wants to achieve.

"The president made a decision as it relates to G-8. He also made a decision to keep NATO" in Chicago, Emanuel told reporters before a speech to Peoria-area business leaders.

It was the mayor's first public appearance in Illinois since the White House made the surprise announcement Monday, just hours after Emanuel had lauded the importance of Chicago hosting the back-to-back gatherings of world leaders the weekend of May 19-21.

Asked Wednesday what changed between last June's announcement from the White House and City Hall that Chicago would host the summits, Emanuel said "the president yesterday addressed that question."

Obama on Tuesday declined to detail the change of heart, saying only that it was pointed out to him he had yet to have G-8 leaders to Camp David. The president's staff was talking about plans for the G-8 summit a couple of weeks ago when one staffer floated the idea of moving it, according to administration officials who requested anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations.

Emanuel spent the last two Fridays in Washington meeting with top administration officials, including U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department plays a role in summit security.

Emanuel did not say when he first learned the president was considering moving the G-8 meeting. He said he was informed of the decision Monday afternoon, shortly before it was officially announced.

The mayor stressed that the May 20-21 NATO gathering was still a key moment for the city.

"While the nature of the event has changed, the economic opportunity for the city in creating a tourism industry and the recognition of bringing the world to Chicago and Chicago to the world still exist and is there because 50 heads of state ... , their foreign ministers and defense ministers are all coming to Chicago for that weekend," Emanuel said. "So that opportunity, economic exposure and energy still exist and will happen."

Also Wednesday, Emanuel's administration said he will not join the local delegation traveling to NATO headquarters in Brussels later this month to promote the city as a business and tourism destination.

The delegation will be led by his wife, Amy Rule, representing the city, and by Gov. Pat Quinn, representing the state, according to a spokeswoman for Chicago's host committee.

The delegation will include Don Welsh, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, and Lori Healey, executive director of Chicago's host committee.

While in Brussels, Quinn also will talk to European business leaders about doing business with Illinois firms.

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