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G8 leaders agree
to boost aid for Africa

G8 leaders agree
to boost aid for Africa

Group of Eight leaders agreed on Friday to more than double aid for Africa to $50 billion to help fight poverty and disease on the continent, presenting the deal as a message of hope that countered the hatred behind the London bomb attacks. The announcement was the culmination of a G8 summit of rich nations hosted by British prime minister Tony Blair, who had been determined to focus on African poverty despite Thursday's attacks, which killed more than 50 people.

"We speak today in the shadow of terrorism, but it will not obscure what we came here to achieve," Blair declared, flanked by fellow leaders of the G8 and seven of their African counterparts on the steps of the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland. "It isn't the end of poverty in Africa--but it is the hope that it can be ended."

G8 leaders also agreed to proposals on international trade, universal access to HIV treatment, and debt cancellation for the world's poorest countries. The leaders did not, however, back Blair's proposal for all G8 nations to increase their foreign aid commitments to 0.7% of their gross national incomes by 2015. President Bush opposed the proposal but agreed to boost U.S. aid to Africa from $4.3 billion in 2004 to $8.6 billion by 2010.

The debt relief plan is expected to cancel at least $40 billion owed by 18 of the world's poorest nations--Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia--to the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Debt forgiveness will save the countries about $1.5 billion each year, which they can use for HIV prevention and treatment programs, famine relief, education, and poverty relief efforts.

The G8 leaders also agreed to start talks on global warming with major emerging economies such as India and China. (Reuters, with additional reporting by

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