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Hunger on the menu as summit meets with African states

Text by: FRANCE 24 (with wires)
3 min

The G8 summit expanded on Friday for talks with African leaders on how rich countries can help the hungry in the world's poorest continent. US President Barack Obama is expected to announce a 15-million dollar initiative to boost food supplies.


Food security and development of Africa topped the Group of Eight menu on Friday, the last day of the three-day summit in the Italian town of L’Aquila. A day after a lavish dinner, the world’s richest nations were set to approve a $15 billion agricultural programme for poorer countries.


Seven African leaders from Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Senegal, Ethiopia and South Africa also join the talks to push the wealthy countries to honour their past aid pledges.


“The G8 have been under increasing criticism for failing to double food aid as promised in 2005 in Gleneagles. Italy and France especially did not give what they had pledged,” reports FRANCE 24’s business editor, Raphael Kahane.


The US has been pushing for a shift away from emergency aid assistance towards longer-term strategies to try to make poorer nations more self-sufficient. US President Barack Obama is due to announce the multi-billion dollar initiative later on Friday, according to Kanaya Nwanze, head of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).


Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade said that Barack Obama -- who kicks off his first visit to Africa as US president later on Friday-- brought a welcome new focus on strengthening African farming.


According to the United Nations, one out of six people on the planet suffers from malnutrition. The global economic crisis, combined with rising food prices, tipped 100 million more people into chronic hunger last year, leading to riots in a number of countries.


“The world knows how to defeat hunger - the G8 needs to show it has the political resolve not to compromise on this issue,” according to Josette Sheeran, executive director at the World Food Programme.


President Obama is due to meet representatives of Angola, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal, as well as Pope Benedict XVI, in Rome, before embarking on an African tour later on Friday.


In a groundbreaking gesture, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi met his first US president on Thursday. He shook hands with Obama and sat one place away from him at dinner.


Consensus on climate change, financial crisis


On the second day of the summit, the gathered leaders from developed and developing nations focused talks on global warming and the financial turmoil.


The largest economies reached a consensus to cut pollution and agreed that global temperatures should not rise about two degree Celsius above 1900 levels.


The G8 members also set an aim to cut their gas emissions by 80 % by 2050 but failed to convince developing nations to cut 50% by the same date. While Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice said 80 percent was an "aspirational goal", member Russia immediately said it could not hit this target by 2050.


"There is a bit of frustration because one would like to convince everyone about everything and obtain all the results straight way, but things are progressing," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters late on Thursday.


The summit wraps up at lunchtime and will be followed by a flurry of bilateral meetings that stretch long into the day.


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