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Sunday, May 17, 1998 Published at 01:38 GMT 02:38 UK

Special Report

Leaders dodge targets for debt relief
image: [ Protesters drive home their message ]
Protesters drive home their message

Tony Blair's hopes of sealing a deal to relieve the burden of debt on developing countries have been dashed.

BBC chief political correspondent Huw Edwards: Demo made a big impression on G8 (33")
But world leaders at the G8 summit in Britain have agreed to consider further action on the issue.

On Saturday, more than 50,000 people joined a demonstration in Birmingham, where the summit is being hosted.

Demonstrators formed a human chain around the city centre in a noisy protest against debts on Third World countries.

Children and adults issued a deafening "two minutes of noise" in a bid to persuade leaders of the eight richest nations to reduce debts of the world's poorest countries.

[ image: Human chain surrounded conference hall ... but world leaders were not in the city]
Human chain surrounded conference hall ... but world leaders were not in the city
But the protesters will be disappointed to learn that the British prime minister's aim for specific targets on interest relief have not been achieved.

Instead, procedures to ease the debt burden on some of the poorest nations, especially those emerging from civil war, are expected to be announced in a communique issued on Sunday.

Mr Blair's officials said it was inevitable the plan would fall short of what campaigners wanted.

Earlier, his International Development Minister, Clare Short, gave a brief speech congratulating protesters at the demonstration.

[ image: Clare Short addressed the demonstrators]
Clare Short addressed the demonstrators
She praised the seven-mile human chain for putting pressure on the G8 leaders, and added: "This is a declaration of the end of the selfishness and the greed of the eighties."

Activists from around the world joined in the chain, which was organised by the Jubilee 2000 Coalition.

Ann Pettifor, director of the charity, congratulated the protesters for coming together in the chain.

Barbara Crowther of Jubilee 2000: Chain represents enslavement of Third World (35")
She spoke of putting pressure on the "hard-faced men of money" who she said failed to understand the problems of world debt.

Meeting on the second day of the G8 summit, Tony Blair and leaders from Russia, America, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada, retreated to a secluded country estate outside the city, much to the disgust of the protesters.

But Mr Blair later met a small group of protesters at the conference hotel. He said afterwards in a statement: "I can assure you all leaders here fully share your concern over the debt burden faced by poor countries.

[ image: Tony Blair relaxes with Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac at Weston Park ... away from the protests]
Tony Blair relaxes with Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac at Weston Park ... away from the protests
"Where a country shows a real will to pursue policies that will relieve poverty and build a sound economy, we will do our part and contribute the funds necessary to reduce debt."

BBC political correspondent Huw Edwards says the protest, which was calling for debt to be written off, made a big impression on Mr Blair.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has promised that for two years the UK will ensure export credits for highly indebted countries will only support productive expenditure.

Excessive military spending or prestige products that lead to bad debt would not be supported, he added.

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1998 Contents
 -  Care in the community
 -  Sri Lanka
 -  Drugs in sport
 -  Millennium Dome
 -  WEF Davos
 -  Health
 -  Diana
 -  04/98
 -  Karla Faye Tucker
 -  EU Enlargement
 -  Five Nations
 -  Asian economic crises
 -  London Referendum
 -  Water Week
 -  Romanov
 -  Pope in Cuba
 -  South Korea
 -  Chinese New Year
 -  Harley Davidson
 -  Woodward
 -  Car Crash
 -  Northern Ireland
 -  Elgar
 -  Super Bowl XXXII
 -  Kosovo
 -  Gulf War Syndrome
 -  Hooligans
 -  Bloody Sunday
 -  Food Agency
 -  Encryption
 -  Bon Appetit
 -  Eurasia 98
 -  US abortion rights
 -  liberal democrats
 -  Valentine
 -  Welfare Reform
 -  Australian Republic
 -  PNG
 -  1970s
 -  India Elections
 -  Viagra

05/98 Contents


india nuclear testing




Education Action Zones






Arms to Africa row


The Human Body


The Bristol heart babies