July 8, 2005

G8 leaders agree $50 billion aid boost

By Andrew Gray

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) - World leaders announced a
$50 billion boost in development aid on Friday, declaring the
deal was a message of hope that countered the hatred behind the
London bomb attacks.

"We speak today in the shadow of terrorism but it will not
obscure what we came here to achieve," British Prime Minister
Tony Blair declared, flanked by fellow leaders of the Group of
Eight (G8) rich states and seven of their African counterparts.

Blair, who skipped much of Thursday's session to handle the
aftermath of the bombs in London which killed more than 50
people, did not give a timetable for reaching the aid target.

Campaigners said they understood the deal was to double
overall aid to some $100 billion by 2010, with about half of
that destined for Africa. They had pressed for the boost
immediately, saying a delay would cost millions of lives.

"There is no hope in terrorism or any future in it worth
living and it is hope that is the alternative to this hatred,"
Blair said on the steps of the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland.

"We offer today this contrast with the politics of terror,"
he said.

"It isn't all everyone wanted but it is progress, real and
achievable progress." he said. "It isn't the end of poverty in
Africa, but it is the hope that it can be ended."

The G8 leaders also agreed a package of aid worth up to $3
billion to help the Palestinian Authority and foster peace in
the Middle East, he said.


They agreed to start a dialogue on Nov. 1 with the major
emerging economies on how to slow down and later reverse the
rise in greenhouse gases which cause global warming.

Environmental groups have criticized their accord as too
vague to pose a serious challenge to climate change.

The leaders pledged to end farm export aid but set no
deadline. They also called for renewed efforts to conclude a
new phase of world trade liberalisation by the end of next

Blair had been determined his twin priorities of action on
global warming and African poverty would not be wrecked by the
London bombings, which British officials say bore the hallmarks
of the al Qaeda Islamic militant group.

But he brought forward his closing news conference by one
hour on Friday to allow him to head back to London in the early
afternoon and take charge of the crisis.

Blair has declared the widespread privation and suffering
in Africa "a scar on the conscience of the world" and his G8
agenda has attracted high-profile backing from rock stars who
staged huge "Live 8" concerts around the world ahead of the

But other G8 nations -- including the United States,
Germany and Italy -- rejected a British proposal to double
funding for Africa immediately by borrowing against future aid

"Tony Blair says this is a beginning but Africa has been at
the beginning for years. After successive G8 summits which have
underplayed commitments, it is unacceptable," said Caroline
Sande Mukulira, head of ActionAid's Southern Africa program.

"It is unclear how much is new -- there may be some new
money but not much."