Blair calls for G8 to agree on African aid

TONY Blair yesterday urged the international community to "step up to the plate" on aid for Africa when the G8 meets in Germany next week.

Rounding off a farewell tour of Africa in Johannesburg, Mr Blair said he was confident that the leading industrial countries could reach agreement.

Speaking alongside the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, following bi-lateral talks, Mr Blair said much had been achieved since Gleneagles but there was more to do.

"What is important is that next week in Heiligendamm (at the German G8) we re-commit to what was agreed at Gleneagles and we step up to the plate, both in terms of aid, in terms of help, in terms of fighting the killer diseases and in issues like conflict resolution and peace-keeping," he said.

On climate change, he insisted there was the possibility of taking "a major step forward" from Gleneagles, with a global agreement that includes the most polluting countries.

The two leaders' discussions on climate change follow the US president George Bush's call for a global warming summit this year.

Mr Blair said: "Let's be clear. For the first time America is saying absolutely clear it wants to be part of such a global deal."

Mr Blair was due to fly back to London last night after his four-day final trip to Africa before leaving Downing Street on 27 June, having also visited Libya and Sierra Leone.

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