Among the topics discussed at this year's meeting of the Group of Eight highly industrialized nations were ways to reduce poverty and disease in Africa. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, and the U.S. issued a statement saying they agreed "to double aid for Africa by 2010." President George W. Bush had previously pledged U.S. assistance to Africa would double between 2004 and 2010.
The G-8 leaders endorsed a U.S.-Britain proposal to forgive debt owed by eighteen poor countries to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the African Development Fund. Fourteen of those countries are in Africa. President George W. Bush says the G-8 countries "are living up to the admonition that to whom much is given, much is required":
"One is to do something about malaria on the continent of Africa. Another is to educate young girls on the continent of Africa. Another is to help battered women on the continent of Africa, as well as our broader initiatives on trade and HIV/AIDS."
Africa has been hard hit by the AIDS pandemic. Some thirteen-million African men, women, and children have died from AIDS, and more than twenty-five-million others are living with the H-I-V virus that causes the fatal disease. "Yet the continent of Africa," says President Bush, "is so much more than the sum of its problems":
"After years of colonization and Marxism and racism, Africa is on the threshold of great advances. Economic growth is at the highest level in eight years. Leaders have emerged from South Africa to Nigeria to Kenya to broker an end to old conflicts. Last year alone five nations south of the Sahara held successful democratic elections. All who live in Africa can be certain, as you seize this moment of opportunity, America will be your partner and your friend."
"The whole world will benefit from prosperity and stability on the African continent," says President Bush. He says, "The peoples of Africa deserve the peace and freedom and opportunity that are the natural rights of all mankind."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.