G-8 Leaders Pledge $60B to Fight AIDS

The Associated Press
Friday, June 8, 2007; 3:56 PM

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany -- The leaders of the Group of Eight ended their summit Friday after agreeing to set a nonbinding goal to cut greenhouse gases, warn Iran over its nuclear program, and give $60 billion to fight AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa.

A deal on the future of Serbia's Kosovo province eluded them, however.

The host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pronounced the summit a success after getting what she most wanted: U.S. agreement to a statement that at least mentions a fixed cut in greenhouse gas emissions, even if it lacks a binding commitment.

"Naturally, after two days, all of the problems of the world have not yet been solved. But we have moved a step forward," Merkel said as she wound up the meeting of leaders from Germany, the United States, Russia, Japan, Britain, Italy, France and Canada.

Among the many decisions Friday by the eight leaders was a promise to spend billions more on fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa. The $60 billion promise remained vague, spread over "the coming years" without a specific timeframe, and some aid groups said it was additionally diminished because it is money already promised. Some $30 billion would come from the U.S. over five years.

After meeting with African leaders, the G-8 also promised to fulfill a pledge made at the 2005 summit to increase aid to Africa by $25 billion a year by 2010. Anti-poverty campaigners have complained the countries are falling behind on that promise.

Bob Geldof, who nurtured the Live Aid concert in 1985 and the series of Live 8 concerts in 2005, seethed, calling the summit a "grotesque pantomime."

"Do me a favor, get serious guys, get serious," he said. "This wasn't serious. This was a farce. A total farce."

In Africa, an array of aid groups and African academics said the declaration fell short of the goals unveiled at a G-8 summit two years ago.

"Even this $60 billion smoke screen can't cover up for the abject failure of the G-8 to move forward on their AIDS promises," said Aditi Sharma, head of the HIV/AIDS campaign for South Africa-based ActionAid.

The G-8 aimed a warning at Iran, underlining support for more measures against Tehran if it does not halt uranium enrichment, obey U.N. resolutions and return to talks. Efforts are under way in the U.N. Security Council to impose more sanctions.

Merkel said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent anti-Israel comments were one of the reasons the group adopted such a forceful resolution.

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