British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (L to R) pose for a family photo in Heiligendamm June 7, 2007. [Reuters]
HEILIGENDAMM, Germany - World leaders meeting in Germany turned their attention to Africa on Friday, agreeing a $60 billion pledge to fight AIDS and other killer diseases ravaging the continent, according to a diplomat.
"The issue is now fixed. The text is agreed," a diplomat from a Group of Eight (G8) member country told Reuters during a summit of the club of industrialised nations.
"The agreement within the G8 will follow the US proposal to increase the aid for fighting these diseases to $60 billion in the forthcoming years with $30 billion coming from the US".
Merkel will make the deal public on the summit's final day after a meeting with the heads of six African nations. Detail on the plans were not available, making it hard to tell how much new money the deal involves.
The G8 countries had wrangled late into Thursday night about specifics on aid for Africa. They were expected to broadly recommit themselves to pledges made at a 2005 summit in Scotland when they said they would double development funding by 2010.
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.
Campaigners for Africa say the $60 billion pledge falls short of UN targets for extending treatment to tackle disease.
Two leading campaigners, rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof, put pressure on G8 summit host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and her fellow leaders from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and Russia.
"The chancellor has asked us to trust her and we are tempted, but we cannot risk being let down by the G8 again," said Bono.