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The BBC's Charles Scanlon reports from Okinawa
"This was the opportunity for representatives from the developing world to make their views known"
 real 28k

Nigerian information minister, Jerry Gana
"The time has now come for the G8 leaders to translate their decisions into actions"
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World Bank President James Wolfensohn
"It's in everybody's interest to make sure that if the money is forgiven, it goes to the people"
 real 28k

Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Debt pressure on richest countries
Woman in Dhaka
For the first time the poor are represented at the G8 summit
The world's richest nations have been urged by leaders of the developing world to live up to earlier promises on relieving third world debt.

Aid agencies say 13 children die every minute in the 40 poorest nations because money has to be diverted from social services to debt repayments.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo made an emotional plea to the G8 countries, who are meeting in Japan, to show political will on the issue.

Woman begging in Venezuela
Living in the same global village as the rich, says Obasanjo
Mr Obasanjo said that the G8 leaders were now fully aware that they had failed to live up to their promise, made in a blaze of publicity a year ago at their summit in Cologne, to make $100bn available to relieve the debts of 40 of the poorest nations by the end of 2000.

African governments alone spend two-fifths of their revenues on servicing their $350bn foreign debt.

Summit issues
The spread of infectious diseases including Aids
Helping Third World countries with debt relief
Improving the workings of global financial institutions such as the World Bank
Nuclear proliferation
International action against crime

The Nigerian leader was in Japan, alongside South African President Thabo Mbeki, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, to present the view of the developing nations to the G8.

The two groups held informal discussions about debt relief on Thursday - the first time that poor countries have been included in the rich country gathering.

Correspondents say their presence is a response to the thousands of protesters who demonstrated in December in Seattle against globalisation.

World Bank

Thursday's discussions were also attended by Mr Wolfensohn of the World Bank, who wrote to the G8 leaders earlier in the week to urge them to carry out their Cologne promise in their own interest.

Human chain protest
A chain of protest in Okinawa
"A world in which the rich get richer while the poorest countries get left out can never be secure," he wrote.

In a BBC interview, Mr Wolfensohn said that he also wanted to press the countries receiving debt relief to produce programmes showing that the money saved would be put to good use to alleviate poverty.

"It is in everybody's interest to make sure that if the money is forgiven, it goes to the people," he said.

The G8 groups the G7 leading industrialised countries - Canada, the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan - and Russia.

Okinawa protest

Meanwhile in Okinawa itself, an estimated 25,000 people formed a human chain around the largest US base to demand the withdrawal of the US military from the island.

The protest comes a day before the expected arrival of President Bill Clinton, the first time a US president will have visited the island since Washington handed it back to Japanese rule in 1972.

About half the total 48,000 US military personnel in Japan are stationed on Okinawa - but many residents are angry at recent crimes committed by US soldiers, and say US interests have stunted the region's development.

The protest organisers said the G8 summit was a crucial chance to bring the issue to international attention.

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Key Stories:
On the agenda:
See also:

20 Jul 00 | Business
Debt shadow over G8 summit
20 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair focuses on world stage
19 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
G8 urged to honour debt promise
20 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's 500m summit bill
20 Jul 00 | debt
Q & A: Dropping the debt
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