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G8 announces $50 billion aid

eitb24 | July 8, 2005

Blair had been determined his twin priorities of action on global warming and African poverty would not be wrecked by the London bombings.
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 that 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." Blair 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.

Talks on climate

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 that cause global warming. Environmental groups have criticised 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 year.

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 summit. 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.

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


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