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Ahead of G-8 meeting, Annan urges support for Africa, action on Millennium Goals

Ahead of G-8 meeting, Annan urges support for Africa, action on Millennium Goals

Welcoming the decision of the world's leading industrialized nations to focus on solutions to Africa's problems at their annual meeting later this month, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the Group of Eight countries also to act decisively on global concerns encapsulated in the Millennium Development Goals, especially the fight against poverty.

These "are goals set by the world for the world, although it is in Africa that they present the toughest challenge, and in Africa that their achievement will depend most crucially on international solidarity," the Secretary-General says in an open letter to the G-8 leaders who are scheduled to meet on 26 and 27 June in Kananaskis, Canada.

In his letter, which was released today at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan calls on the G-8 countries to stand by commitments made last November at the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, to conduct trade negotiations that would open markets to exports from poor and developing countries.

He appeals for them to follow-up on commitments made in March in Monterrey, Mexico, for further increases in development assistance and support international efforts to stem the spread of killer diseases and to make primary education available to all children. The Secretary-General also urges them to commit to ensuring a productive outcome for the World Summit for Sustainable Development later this year in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The "peoples of the developing world would…be bitterly disappointed if your meeting confined itself to offering them good advice and solemn exhortations, rather than firm pledges of action in areas where your own contributions can be decisive," the Secretary-General writes.

Mr. Annan is scheduled to attend the G-8 meeting to participate in the working session on 27 June, which will feature presentations from five African Heads of State who have initiated a New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).