IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

G-8 leaders wrap up with Africa, Iran actions

Leaders of the Group of Eight agreed Friday on a $60 billion package to fight AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa and warned Iran over its disputed nuclear program, on the final day of the summit of the world’s richer nations.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) add
French President Nicolas Sarkozy addresses journalists after he met with President Bush on Friday on the last day of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. Philippe Wojazer / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Leaders of the Group of Eight agreed Friday on a $60 billion package to fight AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa and warned Iran over its nuclear program, on the final day of the summit of the world’s richer nations.

The G-8 pledged to “adopt further measures” if Iran refuses to halt its uranium enrichment program — a sign of support for U.N. Security Council moves to discuss a third set of sanctions. Uranium enrichment is a process that can produce fuel for civilian energy — or fissile material for a bomb.

Meanwhile, G-8 diplomats ran in to obstacles in discussions on the future of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the meeting’s host, said there were still “different opinions” on a proposal to put off a U.N. Security Council vote on Kosovo’s independence for six months, and that diplomats would meet again next week.

Wary of delays, Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku said from his provincial capital, “We cannot wait forever. Give us clarity, give us freedom and let us go.”

The United States and the European Union back a U.N. resolution to give the predominantly ethnic Albanian province supervised independence. But Russia is backing ally Serbia in its resistance to ceding the province seen as its historic heartland.

Bush misses final sessions
G-8 leaders held their final sessions at the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm without an ailing President Bush, who stayed in his room to recuperate after meeting privately with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Bush soon was feeling better and rejoined the summit after missing a session with African leaders and another with heads of state from developing nations China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

In his absence, the other seven leaders met with the presidents of Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria to back the aid plan for Africa. About half of the $60 billion was pledged earlier by the U.S., and other nations will contribute the rest, Germany’s development minister said.

“It was a very candid and open discussion,” Merkel said. “We said that on behalf of the countries of the G-8, that we are aware of our obligations and we would like to fulfill the promises that we entered into and we are going to do that.”

But the anti-poverty group Oxfam noted that only a fraction of the promised US$60 billion represented new aid since the figure was spread over an unspecified number of years and includes money already pledged.

The new money is important, the group said in a statement, but “should be seen for what it is: a small step when we need giant leaps.”

The leaders also discussed a proposal, put forth by Sarkozy, on the independence-seeking Serbian province of Kosovo that would provide six-months for further talks between Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanians.

If they reach no agreement, the U.N. plan would then take effect, giving the predominantly ethnic Albanian province supervised independence.

Kosovo has been under U.N. supervision since a NATO-led air war in 1999 to halt a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

“At the moment, we have not achieved the necessary progress,” Sarkozy said Friday. “The key question that I posed was recognizing the need for Kosovo to achieve independence within a certain timeframe.”

In Pristina, Kosovo’s prime minister urged the West not to betray Kosovo.

“We have committed to the U.N. path and we have been very patient,” Agim Ceku told The Associated Press on Friday. “I urge you; do not betray this trust.”

On Thursday, G-8 leaders reached an agreement on climate change, adopting a statement that says they should “seriously consider” proposals to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050. The nonbinding language is a compromise between the European Union, which wants mandatory cuts, and the United States, which opposes them.

The G-8 is Germany, the United States, Russia, Britain, Italy, France, Canada and Japan.

Bush illness
An aide said Bush likely fell ill with "some sort of bug, probably more viral in nature" and that it appeared unrelated to anything he ate at the summit.

"He's not 100 percent, but he felt well enough to return to the talks," Bartlett told reporters.

Laura Bush didn't feel well a few days ago either, Bartlett said, but didn't stop any of her activities.

The president already was dressed when he began feeling ill in the morning, Bartlett said. He stayed in bed for several hours, missing one session with African leaders and most of another with leaders from China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, all developing nations not G-8 members.

Even while ill, Bush taped his weekly radio address on the immigration bill and met as planned with France's new president, though in his private quarters instead of a meeting room.

Bush also attended the closing lunch, engaging in extensive sideline conversations with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Bush also met on the summit sidelines with Chinese President Hu Jintao and they had a "good talk" about Darfur, a Bush aide said.

Poland, Italy stops
And the president kept to his original travel schedule, departing Germany for Poland and a meeting and dinner with President Lech Kaczynski. Afterward, Bush was headed to Rome.

Bartlett joked that Bush's decision to avoid the other leaders for a while was a "precautionary step" to avoid following in the footsteps of his father, former President George H. W. Bush. At a state dinner in Tokyo in January 1992, the elder Bush fainted and vomited.

The first hint that something was amiss with the current president came when French President Nicolas Sarkozy emerged alone from their meeting. He said, in French, that Bush was in his bedroom and that Bush's spokesmen would have to explain further.

It was their first meeting since Sarkozy took office May 16, and second overall; the first was last September in Washington. Sarkozy said Bush invited him to come to the United States soon.

"The president felt that they established a real personal rapport," Bartlett said.

The new French president, seen as friendlier to the United States, will likely be a welcome change from the merciless tormenting Bush received from Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac.

In Poland, Bush traveled to Kaczynski's seaside presidential retreat on a peninsula jutting into the Baltic, a complex of five villas set on high, wooded dunes. The Bushes were clearly impressed with the striking steel, glass and stucco structures. Mrs. Bush said the Kaczynskis made her and the president feel "right at home" by greeting them with their dog, Titus, a black Scottish terrier who appeared a twin of their own pooch, Barney.

Asked how he was feeling, Bush looked a little wan — after two helicopter rides — but winked and flashed a thumb's up.

The three-hour stop in Poland serves as a bookend to Bush's visit to the Czech Republic at the start of the trip. Bush wants to base a new missile defense system in both countries, which has been the source of a heated dispute with Russia.