Friday, June 08, 2007

Aid to Africa!

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany (Reuters) - World leaders agreed on Friday a $60 billion pledge to fight AIDS and other killer diseases ravaging Africa.

"The issue is now fixed. The text is agreed," a diplomat from a Group of Eight (G8) member country told Reuters on the final day of a summit of the club of industrialized nations.

"The agreement within the G8 will follow the U.S. proposal to increase the aid for fighting these diseases to $60 billion in the forthcoming years with $30 billion coming from the U.S."

U.S. President George W. Bush missed some of the morning sessions after suffering a stomach ailment. His condition was not serious, a White House official said.

Bush hoped to return to summit meetings later on Friday, White House aide Dan Bartlett told reporters.

The G8 countries were recommitting to pledges made at a 2005 summit in Scotland when they said they would double development funding by 2010, said diplomats and officials.

The $60 billion will be used to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, global diseases that have been especially devastating for African peoples and their economies. But the timetable is vague.

Campaigners for Africa say the pledge is made up largely of money which has already been announced, including $30 billion from the United States, and falls short of U.N. targets for extending treatment to tackle AIDS.

"While lives will be saved with more money for AIDS, this represents a cap on ambition that will ultimately cost millions more lives," said Steve Cockburn of the Stop AIDS Campaign.

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