Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 05:58 GMT
Aids focus for summit
Experts fear that the spread of Aids in Africa has been underestimated
Prime Minister Tony Blair is flying to the Commonwealth Conference in South Africa determined to put concern over the Aids virus at the top of its agenda.
Mr Blair will present a British government paper on the issue to other heads of Government when they gather in Durban on Friday.
Pakistan will not be represented at the four-day summit, following the military coup there which led to its suspension, pending a proper timetable for the restoration of democracy being presented.
The British paper on Aids will point out that in nine African countries with the highest incidence of Aids, life expectancy has fallen from being in the 60s age group to the 40s.
The Prime Minister will emphasise that this is one of the biggest challenges facing the Commonwealth, said his spokesman.
Mr Blair and his wife Cherie are due to arrive in South Africa early on Friday.
He said yesterday that he might have preferred to stay at home with his family and watch Saturday's Scotland-England Euro 2000 qualifying soccer match, but the Prime Minister's spokesman insisted: "He is looking forward to the meeting."
However Mr and Mrs Blair will leave early on Sunday night, leaving Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to join the closing ceremonies on Monday.
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