|The plight of impoverished African nations will take center stage at a summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this week in Scotland. The summit's host, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, plans to urge the world's richest nations to do more for Africa. Despite some criticism of the U.S. effort, President George Bush says his nation is heeding that call.|
U.S. President George Bush arrived in Denmark, where he made a brief visit before heading to the G-8 summit in Scotland.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on all the G-8 nations to increase funding to help alleviate poverty on the African continent.
Last month in London, the G-8 finance ministers agreed to a plan to immediately cancel the debts of 18 of the world's poorest nations, including 15 in Africa.
Last week, President Bush said the United States will double the amount of aid it sends to Africa, raising its annual contribution to $8.6 billion over the next five years.
In a message directed to the African people, carried exclusively by the Voice of America, Mr. Bush said the United States cares deeply about the plight of all people throughout Africa, including those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
"Stopping the AIDS pandemic is a top priority of the United States," said the president. "America helped found the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and we provide about a third of its funding. Two years ago, I announced the emergency plan for AIDS relief -- the largest health initiative in history to combat a single disease."
Another key topic at the G-8 summit: global warming. The U.S. is the only G-8 member nation that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Last week on Danish television, President Bush said that meeting targeted reductions in greenhouse gases, outlined by the Kyoto pact, would have, in his words, "wrecked" the American economy.
But in an interview with Britain's ITV television Monday, Mr. Bush said America is committed to a better global environment.
President Bush said in the interview, "I think people are going to be surprised to learn about all the efforts we've made here in America to clean up our environment and to invest in new technologies. And so I'm confident we'll have a good G-8."
Mr. Bush and the other leaders will meet under heavy security, but that hasn't stopped dozens of protesters from gathering in Scotland, calling on rich nations to boost their aid efforts to Africa even further. Demonstrators were on the streets of Edinburgh Monday, and 30 people were arrested.