Blair determined blasts will not stop summit deals
By Andrew Gray
GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) – Determined not to be
deterred by deadly bomb attacks, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair has returned to a summit of world leaders to finalize
agreements on Friday on climate change and aid to Africa.
Blair left the meeting in Scotland on Thursday — while the
other leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations
pushed on with discussions — to handle the aftermath of the
attacks in London that killed at least 37 people.
The G8 members and other leaders attending the summit put
on a strong show of solidarity with Britain before Blair flew
to London. They stood shoulder to shoulder with him as he read
out a joint statement vowing not to be defeated by terrorism.
The flags of the G8 nations flew at half mast around the
summit site, the Gleneagles hotel in the Scottish countryside.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the attacks, which
wounded about 700 people, bore all the hallmarks of the Islamic
militant al Qaeda network.
The leaders promised not to be deflected from pursuing the
agenda set out by Blair as this year’s president of the G8 –
to tackle global warming and provide more aid, debt relief and
trade reforms to help Africa.
Blair flew back to Gleneagles on Thursday evening. In his
absence, G8 officials agreed the final text of an accord on
climate change which the summit is expected to ratify.
The text seen by Reuters says there is a need for urgent
action to combat global warming but sets no measurable targets.
Campaigners said the text had been watered down by the
United States to the point of being meaningless. Washington
says its economy would suffer from targets to cut carbon
emissions that scientists say cause global warming.
“Thanks to the Bush administration, the world’s biggest
polluters have given little hope to those already suffering
from climate change, especially those in Africa who will be hit
hardest by climate damage,” said Jennifer Morgan of
conservation group WWF.
Blair has declared the widespread poverty and suffering in
Africa “a scar on the conscience of the world” and promised to
use his G8 presidency to push for a range of measures including
a doubling of development aid to the continent.
The drive has attracted widespread public support and
high-profile backing from rock stars and celebrities,
demonstrated by the Live 8 concerts around the world in the
build-up to the summit to pressure the G8.
But other G8 nations including the United States and
Germany have rejected a British proposal to double funding for
Africa immediately by borrowing against future aid budgets.
Officials have indicated African nations may have to settle
for a pledge to double aid by 2010 — a boost Blair’s
supporters will say would have been impossible without his
But some campaigners say it is a compromise that would cost
“What is on offer now is $50 billion in five years time.
This is 55 million children too late,” said Caroline
Sande-Mukulira, a senior official at charity ActionAid.
“Moreover, less than half is new money,” she added. “And if
you check the small print, it still comes with damaging strings