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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"The focus of the summit was very much on development issues"
 real 28k

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"The G8 leaders also want to relaunch world trade talks"
 real 28k

Oxfam international's Phil Twyford
says such promises need to be treated with caution
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
G8 call to share wealth
Blair and Clinton announce the new pledges
Blair and Clinton announce the new pledges
World leaders have ended their three-day summit in Japan with a call for the unprecedented wealth of the developed world to be shared with the world's poor.

Leaders of the G8 nations - US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Canada and Russia - said they must work harder to ensure that struggling economies are no longer burdened with unsupportable debt.

In a final communique, the leaders spoke of the urgency of forging new partnerships with poorer nations as globalisation intensified.

They also announced initiatives to improve standards of education and tackle disease.

But the final statement has been criticised for carrying grandiose pledges with little financial backing.
G8 aims
Debt relief to amount to $15bn
Expansion of information technology
Reduce cases of HIV by 25% and TB and malaria by 50% by 2010
Universal basic education by 2015
Restart world trade talks
Closer co-operation to meet greenhouse gas reduction target
Set financial plan to dispose of weapons grade plutonium

The G8 nation hope that up to 20 countries will reach their targets for debt-relief by the end of the year, although this still falls far short of commitments made at last year's G8 gathering.

Pressure groups have expressed disappointment over the G8's failure to honour those previous commitments.

But US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the targets set out at the Okinawa summit were not only to relieve Third World debt but to offer basic education to all the world's children within 15 years and set new targets to combat killer diseases.

As an immediate gesture, Mr Clinton said the US would donate $300m worth of surplus farm crops to poor countries for school lunches.

Mr Blair added that another aim of G8 leaders was to halve deaths from TB and malaria within the next 10 years.

Britain has already announced that it is doubling its budget to fight diseases. Japan has meanwhile pledged $3bn over three years, and the US has announced $1bn a year to make cheaper drugs available.

Kofi Annan rebuked the G8 leaders
Kofi Annan rebuked the G8 leaders
Criticism remains of the summit leaders' apparent failure to agree on ways to speed up debt cancellation.

Deep disagreements

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan this weekend reproached the leaders for too many promises and too little action.

Our correspondent Bridget Kendall says that behind the general concensus, there are still deep disagreements over whether Japan's idea of exporting computers to poor countries is appropriate.

And over the contentious issue of genetically modified foods, this weekend's summit has failed to paper over the divide between European leaders who highlight the potential dangers of bio-technology, and Japan and the US who argue that GM crops could be a vital tool in solving world hunger.


Last year the leaders of the richest nations agreed to cancel $100bn of debt owed by the world's poorest countries by the end of the year 2000.

Lavish summit

But Mr Annan said that so far less than half of the world's 40 most heavily indebted countries have qualified for the relief, which has amounted to only $15bn.

The relief has been slow in coming, because the leading industrialised countries require the poor nations to introduce wide-ranging economic reforms and to promise not to use it to fund wars.

Anti-poverty campaigners also criticised the G8 leaders for spending too much on their own lavish summit and focusing on the so-called digital divide in computer technology between the rich and poor, rather than the debt issue.


Under the initiative, promoted by Japan, a Digital Opportunity Taskforce - or dot force - will be launched. It will include private sector experts and will aim to help build the infrastructure for internet use in developing countries.

The dot force will report back to the G8 before next year's summit in Genoa, Italy.

Sunmmit hosts, Japan, promised $15bn in aid over five years to help train IT experts in developing countries.

The G8 leaders said IT was a vital engine for economic growth that should be shared by everyone.

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Find out more about the G8 summit in Okinawa

Overview:
Key Stories:
On the agenda:
TALKING POINT
See also:

23 Jul 00 | World
G8 leaders set objectives
22 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa luxury leaves sour taste
23 Jul 00 | Business
G8: The 'dot force' challenge
22 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Russia offered cash to scrap weapons
21 Jul 00 | Business
Digital divide - Japan style
21 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair frustration as debt plea fails
21 Jul 00 | World
In pictures: G8 summit
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