G8 agrees to boost African aid by $50bn

Group of Eight (G8) leaders have agreed to boost development aid to Africa by $50-billion as part of a package to fight poverty in Africa, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Scotland on Friday.

Blair told a press conference at the end of the three-day G8 summit that the package includes “the $50-billion uplift in aid, the signal for a new deal on trade, the cancellation of the debts for the poorest nations [and] universal access to Aids treatment”.

The prime minister did not make clear over what period the aid will be delivered, but the draft anti-poverty plan discussed ahead of the summit mentioned an extra $50-billion in aid a year by 2010.

Blair also did not specify how much debt has been cancelled, but G8 finance ministers agreed last month to write off $40-billion immediately to 18 of the world’s poorest nations, most of them in Africa.

Blair also told reporters there is a plan for a new peacekeeping force in Africa in exchange for the commitment of African leaders to democracy, good governance and the rule of law.

“All of this does not change the world tomorrow; it is a beginning, not an end,” he said. “None of this today will match the same ghastly impact of the cruelty of terror.”

Britain to host climate conference

Britain will host a conference in November on establishing a “dialogue” between the world’s eight major industrialised countries and emerging nations on tackling global warming, Blair said.

“We have agreed a process with a plan of action that will initiate a new dialogue between the G8 countries and the emerging economies of the world to slow down and then in time reverse the rise of harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” Blair said.

The meeting will take place on November 1 in Britain, Blair said, without giving further details.

Scientists say the world’s climate system is being affected by carbon gases, emitted by the burning of fossil fuels, that are stoking the sun’s heat and warming the planet’s surface.

But strategies for dealing with it have dug a deep political rift.

Under the United Nations’s Kyoto Protocol, only industrialised countries—except for the United States, which has rejected the treaty—are required to meet targets for emission controls.

The pact runs out in 2012. Negotiations are due to start in Montreal in late November on how the post-Kyoto era should be shaped.

Big developing countries such as China and India are under increasing pressure to join rich countries in curbing their pollution, although at present they reject any binding targets.

Blair was speaking at the Gleneagles golf resort, with the leaders of the G8 industrial countries and five African countries beside him.

The meeting brought together the heads of state or government from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US.

Also invited were the leaders of Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, representing the continent whose plight has dominated this year’s G8 agenda.

Also on hand were the heads of the African Union Commission, International Monetary Fund, UN and the World Bank.—AFP

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