G-8 Offers $60 Billion to Fight Disease in Africa The Group of Eight leaders approved the money after meeting with African heads of state. President Bush, who is ill with a stomach virus, still managed a meeting with France's new president.
NPR logo G-8 Offers $60 Billion to Fight Disease in Africa

G-8 Offers $60 Billion to Fight Disease in Africa

Leaders of the Group of Eight met with African heads of state on their summit's concluding day Friday, agreeing on a $60 billion package to fight disease in the continent as diplomats worked on a possible deal with Russia over Kosovo's future.

The leaders held their joint session in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, Germany, without President Bush, who was ill and stayed in his room after meeting privately with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The others, chaired by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, met with the presidents of Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria. Earlier, Germany's development minister said in Berlin that G-8 leaders had approved earmarking an additional $60 billion to fight the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Anti-poverty activists complain that the world's richer countries have not kept the promises the G-8 made to increase annual aid to poor countries by $50 billion at the Gleneagles summit in Scotland in 2005.

This week, G-8 leaders agreed to earmark $60 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa, Germany's development minister said earlier in Berlin. About half was pledged earlier by the U.S., and other nations will contribute the rest, minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said.

"It was a very candid and open discussion," Merkel said afterward. "We said that on behalf of the countries of the G-8, that we are aware of our obligations and we would like to fulfill the promises that we entered into and we are going to do that."

But the anti-poverty group Oxfam noted that only a fraction of the funds promised to fight disease represented new aid since the figure was spread over an unspecified number of years and includes money already promised.

"The new money announced today is important in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to provide education for all, but it should be seen for what it is: a small step when we need giant leaps," the group said in a statement.

Sarkozy said he and Bush discussed the Serbian province of Kosovo - and that the leaders would talk more about the subject Friday. He said their deputies worked late into the night to find agreement on the province's future.

The United States and the European Union back a U.N. resolution to give the predominantly ethnic Albanian province supervised independence. Kosovo has been under U.N. supervision since a NATO-led air war in 1999 to halt a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Serbia, however, considers Kosovo its historic heartland, and has resisted ceding the province. The Russians, Serbia's traditional ally, say they oppose any solution imposed over Belgrade's objections.

Sarkozy has proposed imposing a six-month wait on the resolution, during which Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanians would hold further talks. If they reach no agreement, the U.N. plan would then take effect.

From the Associated Press