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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 16:50 GMT
Mandela's poverty plea in London
Nelson Mandela with his wife Graca Machel
Mr Mandela will speak out against poverty in Trafalgar Square
Former South African president Nelson Mandela is to visit London next month to plead for help in fighting Third World poverty.

Mr Mandela will visit the capital on 3 February at the invitation of the Make Poverty History campaign.

He is due to speak to thousands of Londoners at Trafalgar Square, urging industrialised countries to give more aid to developing nations.

While in London, he will also lobby finance ministers from rich countries.

Mr Mandela will meet finance ministers from the industrialised G7 countries in London.

The G7 is expected to discuss ways of forgiving the international debt of developing nations at the meeting.

'Clear signal'

Debt payments currently cost the developing nations some US$39 bn (20.7 bn) a year, Make Poverty History said.

The campaign is a coalition of charities, campaigns and trade unions, and has received backing from celebrities including Coldplay singer Chris Martin, model Claudia Schiffer, R&B singer Jamelia and comedian Stephen Fry.

Mr Mandela will speak at Trafalgar Square at noon, urging people in richer countries to raise their international aid budgets.

The square will be decorated with thousands of white bands, the symbol of the poverty-relief campaign.

Adrian Lovett, of Oxfam, a member of the coalition, said: "Nelson Mandela's presence in London sends a clear signal from one of the world's greatest heroes that 2005 is the year when we strike a huge blow against world poverty.

"His presence is not only a rallying cry to the public to get involved, but serves notice to rich countries that the world will not put up with false promises, delays and hollow sound bites."

He added 2005 was the year rich countries should "take action and increase their aid budgets".

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