Harper invites Commonwealth, Francophonie chiefs to discuss G8/G20 agenda

08:51, June 11, 2010      

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper Wednesday for inviting him and his counterpart at the Francophonie to Canada to discuss the big issues for the upcoming G8 and G20 summits.

The Commonwealth groups Britain and many of its former colonies while the International Organization of the Francophonie is an organization of French-speaking nations.

After meeting with Harper here, Sharma said the prime minister's style of broad consultation should be made an official practice.

"If we can make this into a practice -- and the credit goes entirely to Canada for having started it -- people will see that there's a democratization of the global discourse," Sharma told Xinhua.

In a whirlwind tour of meetings in Ottawa, Sharma and Francophonie Secretary-General Abdou Diouf jointly met with Canada's G8 Sherpa and Deputy Foreign Minister Len Edwards, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Prime Minister Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean.

Harper has been consulting heavily with world leaders in advance of the upcoming G8/G20 summits, which take place in and around Toronto.

Topping the agenda will be the impact of global problems and challenges for small and more vulnerable countries, such as development, debt, climate change, maternal and infant mortality and women's entrepreneurship.

Sharma and Diouf wanted to concentrate specifically on ways to help small states in those areas.

Speaking on Harper's goal of making maternal health a priority, Sharma and Diouf asked that the G20 agree to train 500,000 midwives as soon as possible to assist mothers at birth.

"This is the only way to bring down these shocking statistics," Sharma said. "If we all collaborate on this, I think we can achieve it."

Harper had been particularly receptive to the midwife idea because maternal health was the conference's stated focus, he said.

Sharma also stressed the importance of paying attention to the impact of climate change on the smallest countries. He and Diouf suggested a global fund be created for those in urgent need of help.

Source: Xinhua


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