President Bush Miss G8 Meeting To Dodge Aid To Africa

US President George W Bush has skipped the morning session of the Group of Eight (G8) summit because he has a stomach virus, officials say.
White House counsellor Dan Bartlett says Mr Bush got up Friday morning (local time) to get dressed and realised he was "very much under the weather".
But the condition was "not serious".
The US President held one morning meeting with France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy in his bedroom at the luxury hotel in Heiligendamm where he is based for the summit, officials say.
"President Bush is slightly indisposed this morning and will rejoin the working meeting as soon as he can," Mr Sarkozy said after the hour-long discussion, the first between the two since the French leader was elected last month.
Mr Sarkozy emerged alone from Mr Bush's suite at the luxury hotel in the Baltic resort to speak with reporters.
Mr Bartlett says Mr Bush will be back at the summit meetings "as soon as possible".
"It's a stomach virus or something like that," Mr Bartlett said.
The White House says Mr Bush had sent his regrets to the other summit leaders and the US envoy to the G8, Dave McCormack, had represented him at the meetings.
However, World leaders went ahead and agreed on a $60 billion pledge to fight AIDS and other killer diseases ravaging Africa and restated broader promises to double development spending.
"We are aware of our responsibilities and will fulfill our obligations," German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting Group of Eight leaders, told reporters on the final day of the summit.
Campaigners complain that rich nations have fallen behind on commitments made to double development aid at a summit in 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland. Many were unimpressed with the deal.
Leaders agreed to earmark $60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, global diseases that have devastated African peoples and their economies.
But the declaration set out no specific timetable, saying the money would flow "over the coming years." Neither did it break down individual countries' contributions.
Campaigners for Africa say the pledge is made up largely of money which has already been announced, including $30 billion from the United States.
"While lives will be saved with more money for AIDS, this represents a cap on ambition that will ultimately cost millions more lives," said Steve Cockburn of the Stop AIDS Campaign.
He said the pledge falls short of U.N. targets which oblige G8 nations to spend $15 billion per year to combat AIDS alone through to 2010. In comparison, the deal looks like committing them to about $12 billion per year for all three diseases.
Leaders also reiterated an overall pledge made in 2005 to raise annual aid levels by $50 billion by 2010, $25 billion of which is for Africa.
"The important thing is that we have recommitted ourselves to all the commitments we made a couple of years ago," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair who hosted the 2005 meeting.
Campaigners were not convinced.
"Despite last minute face saving measures, the G8 has failed its credibility test on Africa," said Collins Magalasi, ActionAids's country director for South Africa.
Blair and Merkel stressed they expect African leaders to fight corruption and boost transparency so donors can track aid as leaders of six African nations joined the G8 heads on Friday for their discussion on aid.

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