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G8 Leaders End Day of Talks with Commitment to Previous Goals

The leaders of the world's most powerful economies ended their first day of discussions at the G8 summit in Italy with a reaffirmation of their commitment to working together on the world economic crisis, climate change and development aid to the world's poorest regions, in particular Africa. But, as our correspondent reports from the summit site at L'Aquila, those goals have already come under criticism by aid agencies.

After a day of discussions in L'Aquila, it was summit host Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who outlined the results - from commitments to overcome the global economic crisis, to climate change to development aid.

Mr. Berlusconi said despite some improvements in the global economic situation, dangers remain. He noted G8 nations reaffirmed their commitment to work together and coordinate efforts to overcome the current crisis and avoid a repeat.

On climate change, the G8 leaders found consensus, Mr. Berlusconi said, on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and working toward sustainable and renewable energy. But, the Italian leader noted the goals could not work without the participation of emerging economies. The issue is up for further discussion in talks on Thursday.

Another major agenda item was development aid, food and water security.

Mr. Berlusconi said the G8 stands by its commitments to help the world's poorest regions, in particular Africa. But, he also said development assistance needs to be restructured to reach those in need and not just the wealthy elites of poor countries.

Representatives of aid agencies have been quick to react to the declarations of this first day of the summit.

On climate change, the group Oxfam said the G8 statement was disappointing and not nearly enough to stave off dire consequences.

On development aid, the charity Oxfam and other groups have described the renewed commitments as underwhelming and disappointing.

Otive Igbuzor of the group, ActionAid said the G8 leaders have failed the credibility test on Africa.

"It leaves a huge credibility gap because just re-stating the same et up 2005 G8 commitments, without any indication of how they will meet them is simply unacceptable to us," said Otive Igbuzor.

Thursday begins with a series of bilateral meetings. and then discussions between G8 leaders and their counterparts and representatives from emerging and developing economies, including India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Egypt.