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Africa, Global Warming Top G-8 Summit Agenda


Poverty alleviation in Africa and the threat of global warming top the agenda at this week's summit of leaders from the world's eight major industrial powers in Scotland.

Hopes are high the world leaders will strike an agreement at the summit to cut debts, bolster trade and increase aid to the nations of sub-Saharan Africa.

But there is less optimism for agreement on what to do about climate change.

On both issues, all eyes are on President Bush.

In a speech ahead of the summit, Mr. Bush said he is committed to double U.S. aid to Africa by 2010.

But the president also says it is time for a new approach to that aid, given the high levels of corruption and misappropriation of previous assistance programs.

"Over the decades we have learned that without economic and social freedom, without the rule of law and effective, honest government, international aid has little impact or value," Mr. Bush said. "But where there is freedom, and the rule of law, every dollar of aid, trade, charitable giving and foreign and local investment can rapidly improve people's lives."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who wants the developed world to boost aid to Africa to $50 billion a year, says many African countries will have to reform if they want the money.

Tony Blair
"One thing is for sure, that at the G-8 it will be made very clear that the additional help available for Africa is contingent upon good governance and proper democratic norms," he said. "And it is the position of Britain, and the position of the other countries of the G-8 I'm sure, that that is the only basis upon which aid will be increased. So it's up to countries then to decide their future."

On global warming, President Bush expresses concern about the economic impact of deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions, not just for the United States but also for developing countries.

Mr. Bush believes new technologies can help fight the problem.

"Some have suggested that the solution to environmental challenges and climate change is to oppose development, and put the world on an energy diet," he said. "But at this moment about two billion people have no access to any form of modern energy. Blocking that access will condemn them to permanent poverty, disease, high infant mortality, polluted water and polluted air. We're taking a better approach."

Prime Minister Blair believes developed countries should reduce their carbon emissions, and he concedes it may not be possible to strike an agreement at the summit.

"I think it's incredibly important that we do get some clear agreement that we need to move to a low-carbon economy," he said. "We need to curb greenhouse gas emissions. We need to do so urgently. Now I think that is extremely important. That's my own view about that. And we'll wait and see if we get an agreement or not."

The leaders are under scrutiny from a variety of activists, particularly anti-poverty campaigners who organized a series of mass outdoor concerts around the world last weekend to raise public awareness about the situation in Africa.

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