African Aid Is Doubled By G-8

President Bush and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo at the summit, where leaders agreed to increase aid to poor nations by $50 billion a year.
President Bush and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo at the summit, where leaders agreed to increase aid to poor nations by $50 billion a year. (By Yury Kochetkov -- Associated Press)
By Jim VandeHei and Paul Blustein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, July 9, 2005

GLENEAGLES, Scotland, July 8 -- President Bush and the leaders of seven other major industrialized nations pledged Friday to double the amount of aid for Africa in five years and substantially raise it for other poor countries, capping a summit conducted in what British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the "shadow of terrorism."

Blair failed to convince Bush to embrace mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, and the summit issued instead a watered-down pledge to take other steps to combat global warming, such as the development of new technologies. World leaders will meet Nov. 1 to discuss new ways to reduce the pollutants blamed for slowly rising temperatures, Blair announced.

The aid accord was a victory for Blair, the summit's host, who has made helping Africa a priority of his government. Some activists complained that the plan to increase aid for Africa to $50 billion a year by 2010 was too slow, but Blair won praise from the Irish rock star Bono and other celebrities who staged concerts in 10 cities around the world last weekend to pressure summit participants on behalf of the world's poor.

The summit, which brought together leaders of the Group of Eight countries and other heads of government, ended shortly before noon Friday so that Blair could return to London, where bomb attacks killed at least 49 people Thursday.

Before leaving, Blair declared that the "hope" and "humanity" behind the aid deal sent a powerful and timely message. "The clear signal we have sent on Africa," he said, "stands in stark contrast to the politics of terror."

The attacks created a spirit of solidarity among the G-8 leaders that encouraged compromise on aid for Africa and on how to promote peace in the Middle East.

The group, which is made up of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia promised to spend up to $3 billion a year for the next three years to help build an independent Palestinian state.

For completing the Africa package, they were thanked by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who attended Friday. He hailed "their resolve not to be diverted by these terrorist acts."

The leaders portrayed their pledges of new aid as both humanitarian and anti-terrorist, because the assistance would help prevent the rise of groups like al Qaeda in impoverished nations. They promised that by 2010, overall aid to poor nations, now about $80 billion a year, would rise by $50 billion a year, with half of the increase going to Africa.

Although much of that increase consisted of pledges made in earlier initiatives, it got an unexpected boost from Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who promised $10 billion in new funding over five years.

In addition, the leaders endorsed a deal struck by their finance ministers last month to forgive the debts owed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank by 18 poor countries, 14 of them African.

They also pledged to set a date for ending the billions in subsidies for agricultural exports, reiterating a commitment previously made at World Trade Organization meetings. Such subsidies are widely blamed for lowering the prices of products sold by poor countries on world markets.

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