In South Korea, Goldfish Used to Monitor Water Quality at G-20 Summit

November 12, 2010 - 11:56 AM
No Dead Fish Means Water OK

President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a closing press conference at the G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Yonhap News Agency)

Seoul, South Korea (AP) - Dead fish tell no tales - unless they're the goldfish being used to monitor water quality at the conference center where President Barack Obama and other world leaders met Friday to hash out global economic policy.

Hosts of the Group of 20 economic summit have released six goldfish into the convention center's water supply. The goal is to make sure the recycled water piped into restrooms is safe from any toxic attack by North Korean agents.

Any fish that go belly-up would signal possible water contamination.

The animal rights group PETA denounced the tactic.

Tracy Reiman, the group's executive vice president, said subjecting goldfish to contaminated water serves little purpose besides causing them to suffer horribly.

"After all, the fish cannot tell you specifically what might be wrong with the water," she said.

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After taking questions from White House reporters at a wrap-up news conference, Obama offered to let a South Korean journalist pose a question since he said the country had been such a good summit host.

But as it turned out, Obama got a bit more than he was expecting from the reporter he called on, who was the only person who stood to take the president up on his offer. Obama assumed the reporter would speak Korean and requested a translation.

"Unfortunately, I hate to disappoint you, President Obama, but I'm actually Chinese," the reporter said in English, adding that he would be representing the whole of Asia.

His answer led to a mini-debate with Obama over whether the gentleman would get to ask his question. Obama tried a second time to get a Korean reporter to rise to the occasion. There were no takers.

"This is getting more complicated than I expected," Obama exclaimed at one point before answering the reporter's question. The reporter asked Obama how he deals with the many interpretations of his words and deeds.

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Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.