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Annan Welcomes G8 Pledge to Boost Aid to Africa

Annan Welcomes G8 Leaders' Pledge to Boost Aid to Africa

New York, Jul 8 2005 2:00PM

Welcoming the agreement by the leaders of the world's industrial powers in Gleneagles, Scotland, on a package doubling overall aid to Africa to $50 billion a year by 2010, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed that it was "only a beginning" and that only sustained commitment would ensure Africa's self-sufficiency.

Mr. Annan expressed disappointment that the G8 leaders did not commit themselves to a "clear, unambiguous date for ending export subsidies." Such a move, he has said in the past, would level the field for the developing countries to be able to gain access to markets and compete without richer countries.

"This G8 was being closely watched by people everywhere. The leaders carried the hopes of people around the world who wanted progress towards reducing poverty in Africa, and today they got it," the Secretary-General said in statement issued by his spokesman in New York, adding: "I hope Gleneagles will be remembered as the beginning of something very big, perhaps even the beginning of the end of mass poverty."

The statement congratulated British Prime Minster Tony Blair and the other leaders at the Summit for agreeing on the deal, which comprises both aid and debt relief, and aims to ensure that African countries have a means to tackle the obstacles holding back progress towards halving poverty by 2015 and the other Millennium Development Goals.

"This is very good news," Mr. Annan said, welcoming recent progress on debt relief, with final agreement coming in Gleneagles on an earlier decision taken by the G7 finance ministers to wipe out the debt of 18 of the most indebted countries, and an innovative Paris Club debt solution for Nigeria.

"Further, in the G8 meeting with African leaders, the latter reaffirmed their commitment to good governance, democracy and the fight against corruption," he said, adding: "They also reaffirmed the priority they give to the basic decision of achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the areas of health, education, gender equality, agriculture, infrastructure and communication."

"I had hoped that G8 leaders might also have committed themselves to a clear, unambiguous date for ending export subsidies. They will have another opportunity to do so in December, at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Hong Kong," he said.

"But this is the beginning, not the end, for the people and the leaders who made today's success possible. We got here through the exercise of political will. That will must not be allowed to disperse if we are to keep on track for 2015, it added."

ENDS

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