Preparations for the summit in L'Aquila, Italy, have proceeded so poorly that the United States has had to seize control of the agenda, organizing last-ditch conference calls among top officials to inject purpose into the meeting as Italy faced mounting pressure to be expelled from the group, unnamed sources told The Guardian Tuesday.
"For another country to organize the sherpa calls is just unprecedented," an unidentified G8 member state official told the newspaper. "It's a nuclear option. The Italians have been just awful. There have been no processes and no planning."
An unnamed European official added, "The G8 is a club, and clubs have membership dues. Italy has not been paying them."
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, however, dismissed the newspaper's story as "nonsense" and "a joke."
"I hope The Guardian leaves the (ranks of) the world's great newspapers," the Italian news agency ANSA quoted him saying, while Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti disagreed with criticism the G8's agenda was lightweight, saying his country's contribution to the summit was "significant, important and very much appreciated."