World leaders attending the Group of Eight summit at Camp David this weekend will find a "small and intimate" setting for talks on Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and the sputtering global economy — but at least they won't have to bunk together, said National Security Advisor Tom Donilon on Thursday.
Still, not all of the bungalows at the secluded presidential retreat are the same size. So with a group of status-conscious politicians, who's sleeping where?
"The allocation system, of course, is classified. I really can't go into that," Donilon told reporters at a briefing on the eve of the summit.
"There are adequate facilities out there for each delegation — each head of state — to have his or her cabin, and for each to be accompanied by a key staff person, and in some cases two or three staff people," he explained.
Obama expects leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia at Camp David, a military installation whose formal name is "Naval Support Facility Thurmont." Newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin opted to skip the gathering, sending Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instead. The gathering's newest member -- recently elected French President François Hollande -- however, is making the trip.
Obama announced in early March that he was moving the G8 summit, which tends to draw thousands of protestors, from his hometown of Chicago to Camp David, which is nestled in Catoctin Mountain Park, about 90 minutes outside Washington.
"Is it rustic for heads of state?" Donilon said during his exchange with reporters. "You know, I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, right? I never had a lawn bigger than three feet in front of my house. So, yeah. I'm not really the one to comment on rustic."
Obama doesn't seem to be a huge fan of Camp David, according to statistics compiled by CBS Radio's Mark Knoller, whose figures are typically more reliable than the official numbers.
Obama has been to Camp David 22 times since taking office in January 2009, spending all or part of 54 days there, according to Knoller.Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, had been to Camp David 81 times at the same point in his presidency, spending all or part of 256 days there. Bill Clinton? 18 visits, for all or part of 54 days.
This weekend will be the first time Obama has hosted foreign leaders there. At this point in his presidency, Bush had had 10 foreign leaders to the facility.
"The summit is intended to be small and intimate," said Donilon. The leaders will hold their discussions "around the dining room table of the Laurel Cabin."
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