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Protests flare as G8 leaders head to Scotland

ABC News | July 6, 2005

Dozens of protesters have clashed with police and blocked roads around a luxury hotel where the world's most powerful leaders are set to tussle over aid to Africa and combating global warming.

Hooded activists have smashed car windows and fought with riot police in the nearby town of Stirling, while others have set up impromptu barricades on the roads around the heavily guarded complex hosting the summit of Group of Eight (G8) leaders.

Police say they have made 60 arrests.

Anti-capitalist, anarchist and environmentalist groups are seeking to capture the protest limelight that has until now been occupied by thousands of campaigners pressing for an end to poverty in Africa.
G8 summit

Prime Minister Tony Blair, host of the three-day summit, is likely to make headway on his goals of doubling aid to Africa to $US50 billion a year, opening world markets to African goods and cancelling debt.

But he will face tough opposition from the United States on his other main goal - a deal to combat the harmful emissions that most scientists say are warming the earth.

US President George W Bush says he will propose a worldwide effort to invest in alternatives to oil and gas as Washington's answer to the challenge of climate change.

"The United States, for national security reasons and economic security, needs to diversify away from fossil fuels," Mr Bush said.

"And so we've put out a strategy to do just that. I can't wait to share it with our G8 friends."

Talks among the G8 leaders could be complicated by London pipping Paris to the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Mr Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, who lobbied hard for their respective capitals, have a tense relationship and are already locked in a bitter battle over the European Union.
Poverty in Africa

Mr Blair arrived in Scotland from two days of lobbying the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of its decision in Singapore.

He is set to meet celebrity campaigners against poverty in Africa on Wednesday afternoon (local time).

The summit officially begins with dinner on Wednesday, hosted by Queen Elizabeth.

A Live 8 rock concert in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, during the day aims add to the pressure on the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Italy, Canada and the United States.

More than a million people attended Live 8 concerts around the world on Saturday and billions watched on television and the Internet as pop stars campaigned for extra aid, debt relief and fairer trade terms for Africa.

Mr Blair already has a debt relief deal in his pocket and commentators say he should secure some promises on extra aid.

But he is unlikely to get what he wants on financing long-term development for Africa.

The leaders of the world's top industrialised countries are expected to rubber-stamp an agreement on writing off more than $US40 billion in debt to 18 mainly sub-Saharan African states, with another 20 countries potentially eligible later.

Aid agencies say even that will do little to overcome Africa's problems.

They argue that 62 countries need 100 per cent debt relief if they are to meet the goals agreed at the United Nations (UN) of halving poverty and disease by 2015.

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