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Annan urges action by "Group of Eight" on AIDS, poverty, environment

Annan urges action by "Group of Eight" on AIDS, poverty, environment

In advance of the annual summit meeting of the "Group of Eight" countries in Genoa, Italy, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the G-8 leaders to make good on pledges they made during last year's United Nations Millennium Summit to fight AIDS, tackle poverty and preserve the natural environment.

"As you meet in Genoa, the eyes of the world will be upon you," Mr. Annan wrote in his letter to the Group, which was released today at UN Headquarters in New York. He recalled that the Summit had pledged to reverse the spread of AIDS and halve the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015, while sparing no effort in protecting the environment.

With HIV/AIDS taking on "terrifying proportions" in recent years, the Secretary-General expressed hope that the G-8 leaders would take the lead as donors during the General Assembly's special session on AIDS and "will make a sustained material contribution" to the campaign for global health, in part through the proposed Global AIDS and Health Fund, envisaged as a mechanism for raising an estimated $7 to $10 billion needed annually to provide prevention and care in low and middle-income countries.

HIV/AIDS affects both rich and poor, "but the poor are much more vulnerable to infection, and much less equipped to cope with the disease once infected," the Secretary-General noted. To achieve the broad objective of reducing poverty, he urged the G-8 countries to remove handicaps limiting the ability of developing countries to benefit from trade.

Concerning the environment, Mr. Annan strongly urged the G-8 leaders to give the issue priority, and to give "close personal attention" to preparations for next year's World Summit for Sustainable Development.

The Group of Eight is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation.