CALGARY, Alberta -- The world's seven leading industrial democracies and Russia agreed Thursday to a "new deal" to help lift African countries out of poverty, but sidestepped appeals to firmly commit at least half of pledged increases in foreign aid to pay for it.
Leaders of the Group of Eight, holding their annual summit at a resort 60 miles west of here, also agreed to spend up to $20 billion over the next 10 years in a coordinated effort to help former Soviet republics decommission nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and keep them from terrorist hands.
President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said the nonproliferation pact, in which group members agreed to collectively match a U.S. contribution of $10 billion to safeguard and destroy nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, is an "important initiative," and that its approval was a major victory for Bush.
But some of Bush's summit partners were less pleased with the U.S. position on African aid. International development experts expressed disappointment, saying G-8 members failed to acknowledge that their domestic agricultural subsidies, particularly the massive farm bill that Bush recently signed, take far more money away from Africans by impeding exports than the rich nations dole out in foreign aid.
Nor was there agreement to devote major new funding to international debt reduction efforts, beyond covering $1 billion in shortfalls in the current program. The leaders also did not move to firm up an earlier pledge to educate the world's children by adopting a coordinated and well-funded plan.
"It's all words, no action; all promises, no commitments," said Gene Sperling, director of the Washington-based Center on Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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