Resolute G-8 Leaders Unveil African Aid By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 59 minutes ago
GLENEAGLES, Scotland - Vowing not to be sidetracked by the deadly London bombings, world leaders unveiled a $50 billion package Friday to help lift Africa from poverty and proposed up to $9 billion to help the Palestinians achieve peace with
"We offer today this contrast with the politics of terror," said British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, wrapping an economic summit jolted by Thursday's bus and subway attacks.
Leaders also pledged new joint efforts against terrorism in response to the attacks.
The Group of Eight nations — the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia — adjourned early Friday so Blair could return to London to deal with the crisis.
Among leaders, however,
President Bush was first to leave this secluded golf resort and was airborne half an hour before the start of Blair's closing news conference.
Upon arriving in Washington, Bush was headed straight to the British Embassy to sign a condolence book on behalf of the American people.
Among the new anti-terrorism commitments are a promise to work together to improve rail and subway safety, and seeking a wider U.N. role in discouraging terrorism.
"We assure the people of the United Kingdom of our solidarity in the continuing struggle against terrorism," G-8 members said in a statement pledging "to bring terrorists to justice wherever they are."
Separately, Russian President
Vladimir Putin cautioned against going too far and putting more restrictions on democracy. In doing that, "We would be giving a great gift to the terrorists themselves because they are aiming exactly for that," Putin told reporters. "They want to use the instruments of democratic society to destroy democracy."
Leaders also endorsed new trade deals and pledged universal access to
Bush met for 20-30 minutes Friday morning with Blair to discuss the bombings, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters on Air Force One as Bush flew home.
Bush also was devoting his Saturday radio address to the attacks.
With a last-minute pledge from Japan, Blair won a key victory — a promise to boost Africa aid to $50 billion annually by 2010, from the current $25 billion. The United States did not make any additional pledges. Bush announced last week that he would seek to double U.S. aid to Africa by 2010.
At Blair's behest, the G-8 nations also endorsed canceling the debt of 18 of the world's poorest nations and renewed their commitment to a peacekeeping force in Africa.
"All of this does not change the world tomorrow. It is a beginning, not an end," said Blair, the summit host, with summit leaders and the leaders of five African countries standing behind him on the steps of the Gleneagles Hotel.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo thanked them for their "resolve not to be diverted by these terrorist acts."
Blair failed, however, to get all summit countries to commit to boosting foreign aid to an amount equal to 0.7 percent of national income by 2015. U.S. giving is currently 0.16 percent of national income, the smallest percentage of any G-8 country.
Even so, Irish rock star Bono, who helped organize last weekend's global Live 8 concerts to pressure G-8 leaders to spend more money on Africa, called the summit announcements "extremely meaningful" and said "a mountain has been climbed."
G-8 members pledged up to $3 billion a year for three years, or up $9 billion total, much of it in the form of private investments, to help energize the Palestinian economy and create conditions more conducive to getting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track.
Blair said the pledge would help "two states, Israel and Palestine, two peoples and two religions (to) live side by side in peace."
Leaders also declined to embrace Blair's proposal for promises of sharp reductions of the pollutants scientists say cause global warming.
In a compromise, they agreed to Bush's insistence that any new round of talks include developing countries such as China and India that were exempted from the Kyoto treaty on global warming.
Blair announced the first such meeting for Nov. 1 in London. The United States is the only G-8 nation to not ratify the Kyoto treaty, which took effect in February.
"It is in the nature of politics that we do not achieve absolutely everything we hope to achieve, but nonetheless I believe we have made very substantial progress indeed," Blair told reporters.
President Jacques Chirac agreed, and said the agreement on climate change would ensure "indispensable dialogue" between nations.
Although the London bombings cast a pall over what usually is a festive gathering, German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder said leaders were "overall successful" in pushing through the agenda.
Environmental groups accused the Bush administration of being the major obstacle to a stronger statement on global warming.
"The Bush administration has again done its best to derail international action to tackle climate change," said Tony Juniper, vice chair of Friends of the Earth International.
On the Net:
U.S. on G-8: http://usinfo.org/usia/usinfo.state.gov/topical/econ/group8/g8what.htm
I'm unhappy. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world right now and they're the bloody cheapest of them all! Even Canada is giving more than .16 of its national income and Canada has huge debt itself! Bloody hell... When are people going to start giving a damn. I know I'm preaching to the converted but many of the American tourists that I've talked to here don't even know what the one campaign / dropping the debt / ending poverty / ending world aids is all about! Most couples, of all ages I might add, didn't even know what G-8 is and they didn't even know their own damn president was involved. We have to try harder to spread the word, find a way to break through into the ignorant's puny tunnel-visioned minds! So many people can tell you what happened on the OC, who's #1 on the charts, and when Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes, but so few know about real issues and important matters in the world we live in today.
It's time to change a generation of apathy into one of empathy...