The G-8 summit has ended with agreement on aid to Africa, help for the Palestinians, and a vow to seek consensus on global warming. But this meeting of the world's leading industrialized nations and Russia may be best remembered for its unity in the face of terrorism.
|British Prime Minister Tony Blair makes a statement before a group photo at the end of the G8 summit, Friday|
The final image of this summit sent a strong message, the sight of the G-8 leaders standing as one to condemn terrorism, along with a group of presidents and prime ministers from Africa.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who left the summit for several hours Thursday to go to the scene of the London bombings, walked to the podium.
"We speak today in the shadow of terrorism, but it will not obscure what we came here to achieve," he said.
Mr. Blair said the G-8 will address the hopelessness and poverty that can create a breeding ground for terrorism. He made specific mention of a significant increase in aid to the Palestinians.
"Yesterday evening, the G-8 agreed to a substantial package of help for the Palestinian Authority amounting to up to $3 billion in the years to come so that two states, Israel and Palestine, two peoples and two religions can live side-by-side in peace," Mr. Blair said.
The Palestinian assistance was a surprise. The summit was expected to focus mainly on aid to Africa. In addition to an already completed agreement on debt cancellation, the G-8 promised a $50 billion aid package, steps to boost trade, and efforts to dramatically increase access to AIDS treatment.
"It isn't the end of poverty in Africa, but it is the hope that it can be ended," the prime minister stressed. "It isn't all everyone wanted, but it is progress, real and achievable progress."
The leaders of Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania joined the G-8 members for their deliberations on Africa. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said the meeting was a success, adding he could not understand what the terrorists hoped to achieve by staging attacks in London as the G-8 was beginning its work.
"Africa needs the undiverted attention and commitment of the G-8," he said. "We are pleased that our interlocutors have affirmed their resolve not to be diverted by these terrorist acts."
The G-8 continued to meet throughout the crisis, with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw assuming the chair while Prime Minister Blair returned to London.
More than a dozen statements and agreements were put out by the G-8 leaders, including a carefully worded document on climate change.
President Bush is the only G-8 member who has not signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, which is designed to reduce emissions of gases that pollute the air and warm the atmosphere. The summit acknowledged this split on Kyodo and said it is time for all countries to do what they can to address the problem. Prime Minister Blair said they all realize they have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment.
"We do not hide the disagreements of the past. But we have agreed to a process with a plan of action that will initiate a new dialogue between the G-8 countries and the emerging economies of the world to slow down and then in time to reverse the rise in harmful greenhouse gas emissions," Mr. Blair said.
He said that dialogue would begin on the first of November with a meeting in Britain.