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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
Blair meets African reformers
Tony Blair meeting African leaders
The leaders pledged to rid the world of terrorism
The British prime minister, Tony Blair, has met six African presidents for talks at his country residence.

The leaders of Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Botswana, Senegal, and Mozambique were invited by Mr Blair to share their views on the development of Africa.

We stand together today in solidarity with the United States in our determination that those responsible should be brought to justice

Joint statement
Mr Blair has named African development as a personal priority in his second term of office and correspondents say the African leaders are keen to create an image of stability in their countries to attract much-needed foreign assistance.

The six African leaders and Mr Blair also condemned the attacks on the United States and pledged to work to "rid the world of the evils of terrorism".

US solidarity

In a joint statement, they condemned the attacks "in the strongest possible terms."

"We consider these to have been attacks on the whole of the international community and on people of all faiths and cultures," the statement said.

"We stand together today in solidarity with the United States in our determination that those responsible should be brought to justice."

The meeting, which took place at Mr Blair's official country residence Chequers, had been planned long before last Tuesday's attacks.

Globalisation talks

Despite Mr Blair being busy with helping Washington to rally support for an international coalition against terrorism his spokesman said he had been keen to honour his pledge to raise Africa's profile.

The six leaders invited are reforming, forward-looking presidents, most of them with clear ideas on how they want their countries to develop and a good track record in making government work.

President Obasanjo of Nigeria
Nigeria's president is a leading sponsor of the New Africa initiative

A spokesman for Mr Blair said the talks were focussed on conflict prevention, good governance and trade.

"Africa is the only continent which has yet to benefit from globalisation," he said.

The meeting also studied the New Africa Initiative - an economic development plan aimed at combating debt, poverty and Aids.

The talks follow a range of political and economic initiatives for Africa, including the promise of $1.2bn for a global Aids fund made by the G8 nations at their Genoa summit in July.

The BBC's Jon Devitt
"Mr Blair takes a strong personal interest in the problems facing African states"
See also:

16 Feb 01 | Business
Africa's economy under spotlight
20 Mar 01 | Africa
Senegal: A year of President Wade
09 Mar 00 | Africa
UK minister urges Nigeria reforms
18 Sep 01 | Africa
African leaders meet Blair
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