White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today that there will now be a meeting between the U.S. and Chinese delegations, likely led by U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.).
After the summit concludes, Obama caps off the Italian leg of the trip with a visit to the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.
Asked if the president and pope would discuss their differences on issues like abortion, gun control and gay rights, Gibbs said the president and the pope would have a "frank discussion."
The spokesman noted that there are many things the two agree on that they will be able to discuss, like the president's outreach to the Muslim world and his position on nuclear proliferation.
Berlusconi is hoping that a successful G-8 summit will help his political standing and shift the spotlight away from his recent negative headlines.
The Italian prime minister has been embroiled in a nasty sex scandal that culminated with his wife announcing in May that she was divorcing him over allegations that he had an affair with a teenaged model. Since then, Berlusconi's personal life has come under fire amid charges of paying high-end escorts to entertain at parties at his residence in Rome and racy photos of women at his villa on Sardinia.
The prime minister has refused to step down, and he still enjoys modest approval ratings among the Italian public.
Earlier today, Obama appeared to take a shot at Berlusconi through a compliment he paid to Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano.
"I have heard of the wonderful reputation of President Napolitano as somebody who has the admiration of the Italian people, not only because of his long-standing service but his integrity and his graciousness," Obama said after meeting with the Italian leader at Quirinale Palace in Rome.