G8 summit tries to avoid self-indulgence (2)

09:59, May 29, 2011      

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US President Barack Obama (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy meet on the sideline of the G8 summit, in Deauville, northwestern France, on May 27, 2011. (Xinhua Photo/Foreign Ministry of France)


At the summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled an aid package of 40 billion U.S. dollars for the Arab world from the G8.

The International Monetary Fund said on its website Friday that it is ready to loan up to 35 billion dollars for the Arab region to help it meet goals on growth, stability, job creation and improving living standards.

The plan appears ambitious. But details are yet to be known such as specified sources of the fund, when the funds will be available, and which countries will be qualified to get the aid.

In addition, most of the aid would be in the form of loans, instead of grants. Most importantly, strings are attached to G8 assistance -- recipient countries must carry out political reforms.

"This support will initially be available to Egypt and Tunisia, but will ultimately be there for any country that embraces the path to democracy and reform -- and of course that could include, for example, Libya," said Sarkozy.

Mike Froman, a deputy national security adviser at the White House, pledged that the aid plan would not be a blank cheque. "It's an envelope that could be achieved in the context of suitable reform efforts."

However, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) following the Deauville summit doubted the credibility of G8 promises of aid to Africa.

"Today, the G8 (leaders) have made new promises in support of the Arab Spring, but unless they also deliver on their existing commitments to fight poverty, what's to say this is not just another batch of empty promises?" asked Oxfam spokesperson Emma Seery.

Others argued that G8 countries had failed to deliver the money they had pledged to Africa at previous summits.

The suspicion is not entirely unfounded given the fact that the G8 countries are struggling with the fallout of the global financial crisis and mounting debt.

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Source: Xinhua
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