June 26, 2006

Blair urges more action on G8 poverty promises

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said
on Monday that the Group of Eight had failed to make progress
on some of the commitments it made at a summit last year to
tackle global poverty.

Writing in the Independent newspaper, Blair said the
problems of poverty and climate change could not be solved
"overnight," but urged more action, particularly on trade.

"These are long-term problems and the solutions will be
long-term too," he wrote in a joint article with his Finance
Minister Gordon Brown and Development Minister Hilary Benn.

"But millions who campaigned in the run-up to the G8 summit
(in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July 2005) have every right to
expect immediate action to start to put things right."

Blair singled out trade as the "one key element of the 2005
agenda where we have failed to make the progress we hoped" and
urged World Trade Organization members to have the "courage and
imagination to remove obstacles" to a deal.

WTO members are struggling to strike a deal on basic
formulas for cutting farm subsidies and reducing agricultural
and manufacturing tariffs after more than four years of talks.


In a speech later on Monday, Blair will say he has enlisted
rock star Bob Geldof and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to
track how G8 industrialized nations live up to their aid
promises to Africa.

Blair will announce he is setting up an independent Africa
Progress Panel, to be chaired by Annan and to include Geldof,
organizer of a series of Live 8 concerts last year, and
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, to evaluate progress.

Millions attended rock concerts around the world to press
for action by the G8, which promised an extra $50 billion a
year in total aid for all developing countries by 2010,
including an expected $25 billion for Africa.

Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane, who set up
the African Monitor watchdog which gets local communities to
track the progress of aid pledges, told BBC radio the rhetoric
was strong, but was not always matched by delivery.

"People are good at talking," he said. "What we are seeking
to do is to ensure that there is translation from talk to
action -- that the actual cash is delivered."

(Additional reporting by Astrid Zweynert)