May 28, 2011 in Nation/World

World leaders pledge aid for ‘Arab Spring’

Christi Parsons Tribune Washington bureau
 
Associated Press photo

President Barack Obama talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf at the G-8 summit in Deauville, France, Friday.
(Full-size photo)

DEAUVILLE, France – World leaders vowed to put more of their money behind emerging democratic governments in North Africa, announcing plans for $40 billion in aid and support from wealthy nations and international development agencies.

The commitment came at the conclusion of an international summit in France at which President Barack Obama exhorted other leaders for economic assistance and debt forgiveness to strengthen new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia and encourage popular movements elsewhere.

However, leaders did not specify timetables or how much specific countries would contribute or receive. Generally, they said, $10 billion would come from nations that are members of the Group of 8 industrial nations – the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Another $10 billion would come from wealthy Persian Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, while $20 billion more would come from agencies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Outside aid groups questioned the value of the package because the G-8 is so far behind on past financial assistance commitments.

But the Obama administration counted the G-8 summit’s official statement as an important achievement, in part because it presents a display of international resolve behind movements in the Middle East and North Africa and an investment in their economies.

“More important than any numerical figure, I think, is the vision that it lays out,” said Michael Froman, an aide to Obama for international economics.

At the end of the two-day summit, leaders of the eight countries also agreed to step up pressure on Syria and other governments that use violence to suppress popular dissent.

Later Friday, Obama arrived in Warsaw, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He also visited the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial, commemorating the Jewish uprising against Nazis, and hosted a gathering for Central and European Union leaders at the presidential palace.

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