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Bush Wants G8 to Honor Commitments to Africa


U.S. President George Bush says he will use next week's meeting of the world's leading industrialized nations to urge fellow leaders to honor the commitments they have made to help Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says the world needs more than leaders who make promises about helping Africa. He says it needs leaders who actually write the checks.

"You know I hope that these countries understand the great promise and hope that comes when we help alleviate this suffering," the president said. "And so one of my really important agenda items is going to rally our partners to make commitments and meet commitments."

Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House that he is going to next week's Group of Eight summit in Japan to press fellow leaders to deliver on a promise made two years ago to double financial assistance to Africa to $22 billion by the year 2010.

So far, the nonpartisan AIDS and poverty awareness group the One Campaign says just 14 percent of those funds have been delivered.

At last year's G8 summit, leaders agreed to back U.S.-led efforts to help cut African deaths from malaria by half in the most-affected countries. President Bush says he will push leaders to honor that commitment as well.

Mr. Bush says he will press for more G8 funding to train African health care workers and assistance for those facing rising food prices in Africa and other developing nations.

"At Toyako, I will also ask leaders of the G8 to make important strategic moves to alleviate hunger, such as increasing the shipments of food, fertilizers, and seeds to countries in need. It's one thing to talk about the problem," he said. "This is a practical way to help countries deal with the lack of food. We need to help severely affected nations grow more of their own food. It's one thing to provide food. It seems like it makes sense to me to say we are going to help you become more agriculturally self-sustaining."

White House officials expect President Bush will discuss the ongoing political crisis in Zimbabwe both during bilateral talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki and in a wider conversation between G8 leaders and the heads of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania.

Global climate change is also on this year's agenda.

Summit host Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda hopes to convince his colleagues to agree on a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

President Bush blocked binding limits on greenhouse gases at last year's G8 meeting because they did not apply to other big polluters including China and India. So this year's summit will include China and India in a separate meeting of 16 major economies responsible for 80 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions.

Mr. Bush says efforts to combat global climate change must not restrict economic development.

"I'll be reminding people that we can have better energy security and we can be better stewards of the environment without sacrificing economic growth," he noted. "And the principle is pretty simple. It's going to be hard to have the amount of money necessary to invest in new technologies if we don't have the money to spend, and therefore we need to make sure our economies are vibrant."

The president has approved $40 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to support private sector investments in clean energy technology.

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