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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 18:49 GMT 19:49 UK
Blair calls for action on Africa
Tony Blair in Addis Ababa's Africa Hall
Blair said there would soon be "no more excuses"
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has appealed to the world to do more to help Africa out of poverty.

At a meeting of his Commission for Africa, in Ethiopia, he vowed to put the continent at the top of the agenda when Britain chaired the G8 next year.

It was "a tremendous opportunity to put before the international community a plan for Africa", he told the BBC.

The Commission for Africa was set up to look at issues such as development aid, fair trade and debt relief.

The meeting in Addis Ababa is its second, after an inaugural summit in London in May.

Poorest continent:
How Africa compares with the rest of the world

The commission will produce a plan of action early next year which will then be presented to the G8 group of leading industrialised nations.

After that report, "the time for excuses will be over", Mr Blair said in his keynote address in Addis Ababa's famous Africa Hall.

He told delegates it was "time to turn international attention into international action".

And he urged the international community to raise $150m (84m) to help people caught up in the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

He also said Britain hoped to train 20,000 African peacekeepers over the next five years.

Poorer

Mr Blair said building stability in Africa would be to the West's advantage, as "we know that poverty and instability leads to weak states which can become havens for terrorists and other criminals".

Earlier, he had visited a community project for orphaned children an hour's drive from Addis Ababa.

He was given a traditional welcome and spent time talking to some of the children and volunteer workers about the impact of HIV-Aids.

MEMBERS OF THE AFRICA COMMISSION INCLUDE:
Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister, Ethiopia
Trevor Manuel, Finance Minister, South Africa
K.Y. Amoako, UN Economic Commission for Africa
Benjamin Mkapa, President of Tanzania
L.K. Mohohlo, Governor, Bank of Botswana
Dr Anna Tibaijuka, Director, UN HABITAT, Tanzania
T.J. Thiam, group director, Aviva, Ivory Coast
William Kakema, chairman, Uganda Manufacturers Assn
Fola Adeola, chairman, Fate Foundation, Nigeria

The BBC's Peter Biles in Addis Ababa says Ethiopia epitomises many of the problems that African nations are facing - extreme poverty, food insecurity and high population growth.

Our correspondent adds there is concern about the way conflict in Africa is impeding economic growth. Africa is the only continent that has grown poorer in the last 25 years.

The commission's critics say it is just another talking shop.

The commission meeting comes exactly 20 years after the Ethiopian famine that prompted a worldwide humanitarian response and generated the Band Aid relief effort.

Bob Geldof, who spearheaded that work, is also attending the meeting in Addis Ababa.




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Watch Tony Blair speak as he visits Ethiopia



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