News / Europe

G8 Summit Ends With Harsh Words, Promises

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks to France's President Nicolas Sarkozy as they leave the Villa Le Cercle after a working lunch during the G8 summit in Deauville May 27, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks to France's President Nicolas Sarkozy as they leave the Villa Le Cercle after a working lunch during the G8 summit in Deauville May 27, 2011

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Lisa Bryant

President Barack Obama and other G8 leaders wrapped up a two-day summit in the French coastal town of Deauville with harsh words for the governments in Libya, Syria and Iran but promises of billions in aid for democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.

Following talks Friday with French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, President Barack Obama said the two were united in their call for Libyan leader Moammer Gadhafi to go.

"We agreed that we have made progress on our Libya campaign but that meeting the UN mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Gadhafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people," the president said. "And we are joined in resolve to finish the job."

The push for Gadhafi's departure got a boost from Russia, which has offered to mediate the Libyan leader's departure. G8 leaders in Deauville also condemned Iran's nuclear program during their two-day meeting. Summit host, President Sarkozy, said he agreed with President Obama that Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad should either allow a democratic transition in his country - or step aside.

US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf (L) at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 27, 2011
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf (L) at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 27, 2011

But the G8 leaders also offered major incentives to two Arab nations on the road to democracy - promising $20 billion in aid to Egypt and Tunisia via multilateral institutions. President Sarkozy said another $20 billion was available to the two countries in bilateral assistance and other aid.

Tunisian Finance Minister Jalloul Ayed told reporters the country's top priority was to boost the economy and create jobs for hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths.

"The consolidation of democracy goes hand in hand with prosperity," Ayed said. "Because if Tunisians don't feel very quickly that democracy is creating the conditions for them to feel better, to feel more prosperous, then we run the risk to see that democratic process fail in the end."

Democracy was the hallmark of G8 talks with several leaders from sub-Saharan Africa.They included those from three countries - Ivory Coast, Guinea and Niger - who have recently held democratic elections.

Sarkozy said African countries understand the new G8 partnership with Africa will give priority to those countries who fight against corruption and for democracy.

Nongovernmental activists say the G8 summit should have given more priority to the environment and helping the poorest and most vulnerable. But some, like Save the Children's Global Campaign Director Adrian Lovett said this year's G8 also delivered good news.

"Well we think there are some good signs coming out of this French G8. We didn't have the highest hopes for the outcome for Africa but some signs of progress," said Lovett. "The critical thing for us is that the package that's been agreed for Arab countries musn't divert attention away from the existing promises that leaders have made to Africa, to the very poorest countries."

Besides supporting the so-called "Arab spring" declaration, G8 leaders also pledged to help Africa achieve peace, stability, economic development and growth.

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