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G8 leaders agree big aid boost for Africa

July 8, 2005

By Andrew Gray

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) – World leaders agreed on
Friday to more than double aid for Africa to $50 billion,
presenting the deal as a message of hope that countered the
hatred behind the London bomb attacks.

The announcement was the culmination of a Group of Eight
summit of rich nations hosted by British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, who had been determined to focus on African poverty
despite Thursday’s attacks, which killed more than 50 people.

“We speak today in the shadow of terrorism but it will not
obscure what we came here to achieve,” Blair declared, flanked
by fellow leaders of the G8 and seven of their African
counterparts on the steps of the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland.

“It isn’t the end of poverty in Africa — but it is the
hope that it can be ended.”

Campaigners described the increase as welcome progress but
said it fell far short of the hopes of millions of people who
had backed the Make Poverty History campaign and attended the
Live 8 rock concerts around the world to put pressure on the
G8.

The G8 leaders also agreed to start talks on global warming
with major emerging economies such as India and China.
Environmentalists said their declaration was a missed
opportunity to take concrete action on climate change.

On the world economy, they called for more investment in
refining as well as greater access for foreign investors to
oil-rich states to tackle record high oil prices.

They pledged to end farm export subsidies — a major demand
of African nations who say they cannot compete when rich
countries help their farmers dump produce in poor states. But
they did not set a date.

They called for renewed efforts to conclude a new phase of
world trade liberalisation by the end of next year.

And in foreign policy, they agreed a package of aid worth
up to $3 billion to help the Palestinian Authority and foster
peace in the Middle East.

AID BOOST

The G8 said annual development aid to Africa would increase
by $25 billion by 2010, more than doubling the 2004 level.

They also said overall annual development aid — currently
around $50 billion — would increase by $50 billion by 2010.

“The world’s richest nations have delivered welcome
progress for the world’s poor people but the outcome here in
Gleneagles has fallen short of the hopes of the millions around
the world campaigning for a momentous breakthrough,” said Jo
Leadbeater, head of policy for the aid agency Oxfam.

Blair defended the deal.

“Politics is about getting things done step by step,
progress by progress,” he said. “This is big progress, and we
should be proud of it.”

Blair has called African poverty “a scar on the conscience
of the world” and his G8 agenda won support from ordinary
people, rock stars and African leaders.

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 budgets.

Some experts had questioned whether African states could
absorb such a large increase in a short time, and suggested
African leaders should first prove they could stamp out
corruption.

To see the full texts issued by the G8 summit, click on
http:/www.g8.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate
/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1119518704554




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