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Commission for Africa Concludes Meeting with Calls to Help Continent - 2004-05-04

Britain has hosted the first meeting of the international Commission for Africa, aimed at helping the continent overcome the scourges of poverty, underdevelopment and HIV/AIDS.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the meeting he will make Africa his priority when Britain chairs the Group of Eight industrial nations and the European Union next year.

He told a news conference the Commission for Africa intends to energize a new international effort to help the continent tackle its problems, despite many failures in the past.

"I don't think there is any fatigue anywhere with people's anxiety and sense of moral outrage at what has happened in Africa," said Mr. Blair. "What I think people need is an agenda for action and for change that will command support across the international spectrum."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the problems are well known and solutions have been prepared, but now is the time to carry out those plans. "We are coming to London to work together with others to create the political will to implement the solutions that we all think can help Africa. That is the main point," he said. "To help generate the political will to do something about it."

Another delegate, Bob Geldof, the rock musician whose Live Aid concerts raised millions of dollars to fight an Ethiopian famine in 1984, he said that he is tired of watching news reports of Africans dying.

"We cannot accept the idea of people dying on our [TV] screens every night, forever," he said. "That must begin to stop. And I suggest that this is the day it begins to stop."

The delegates at Tuesday's meeting agreed on themes for the project, including ways to resolve conflicts, keep the peace, stimulate economic growth and improve governance.

The commission is due to present its findings in July of next year when Britain hosts the G8 summit