G8 leaders wrap up summit, pledge billions of dollars for new partnership with Arab

14:39, May 28, 2011      

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The leaders of the world's richest countries wrapped up a two-day summit here on Friday, pledging billions of dollars in a new partnership with the Arab world to promote desired change in the region.

"Today we launched the 'Deauville Partnership' with the people of the region, based on our common goals for the future," the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations said in a joint declaration after an annual summit in the French seaside resort of Deauville, with the recent turmoil in the Middle East and North African region high on their agenda.

"In light of the recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, we renewed our commitment to support democratic reform around the world and to respond to the aspirations for freedom," they said.

In a clear sign to show support to the political change in the region, the G8 leaders invited the newly-elected prime ministers of Egypt and Tunisia to attend a so-called outreach session of the summit on the last day.

"We met with the Prime Ministers of Egypt and Tunisia, and decided to launch an enduring partnership with those countries engaging in a transition to democracy and tolerant societies," they said.

As part of the "Deauville Partnership" with Arab nations, the rich countries pledged billions of dollars at the summit to foster western-style democracy in the region.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the host, said at a press conference after the summit that the international community was making available a total aid package worth 40 billion U.S. dollars for Arab countries, among which 20 billion dollars would come from multilateral lenders with the support of G8 countries.

On top of the 20 billion dollars, rich countries also pledged to give 10 billion dollars on bilateral arrangements, and another 10 billion dollars would come from Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

Sarkozy said the figure did not include contribution from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was expected to provide some 35 billion dollars, raising the total aid to Arab countries to some 75 billion dollars.

"The Fund potentially could make available as much as 35 billion U.S. dollars in financial assistance to the region in the years ahead as part of a broad international effort," the Washington-based IMF said in a statement.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said rich countries would also make use of trade to support Arab states.

"Every G8 country now stands ready to open its market to countries in that region that we are committed to support," he told reporters after the summit.

While throwing out carrots, the G8 countries also showed off their sticks.

The leaders sharpened their tone against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and governments in Syria and Yemen.

"Gaddafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy," the leaders said. "He must go."

Sarkozy warned that the NATO-led military operation in Libya should be stepped up and there would be no room for mediation with Gaddafi.

"Mediation is not possible with Gaddafi," he said, adding there could be talks about the possible destinations for Gaddafi's exile.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier on Friday that Moscow stands ready to mediate in Libya crisis.

On Syria, the G8 leaders said they were appalled by the rising violence in the country, urging the Syrian government to immediately stop using force against protestors.

Sarkozy said the G8 countries agreed the same line, which may pave way for possible action at the United Nations Security Council.

"The G8 countries did not have different positions on this issue, and there will also be a common position at the UN," he said.

But Ryabkov immediately disputed the "faked unanimity."

"We are convinced that the Syrian situation differs dramatically from the Libyan one, and we believe that the Syrian leadership is ready for reforms," Ryabkov said. "This is not a threat to security, this is an internal situation that we are convinced the Syrian government is able to deal with on its own."

The G8 leaders also expressed concern about the situation in Yemen and condemned the use of violence in response to protest throughout the country.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters rallied on Friday in Yemeni capital Sanaa and another 15 major provinces to repeat demands of immediately ousting President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Four-month-long street protests and political deadlock between Saleh's ruling party and the opposition have almost brought the country on the verge of a civil war and economic collapse.

In addition to the unrest in the Arab countries, the two-day summit of the G8 leaders was also focused on the global economy, in particular the eurozone debt crisis, and nuclear safety.

"The global recovery is gaining strength and is becoming more self-sustained," the leaders said. "However, downside risks remain, and internal and external imbalances are still a concern."

They pledged to promote the highest levels of nuclear safety worldwide through strengthening of international cooperation, after a powerful earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan caused huge radioactive leakage at the country's Fukushima nuclear power plant and fueled concern about the safety of nuclear energy.

Source: Xinhua
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