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G8 leaders support Arab Spring

Group of Eight world powers pledge $20b for Egypt and Tunisia reforms

  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy, shakes hands with US President Barack Obama during departures after a G8 sumImage Credit: AP
  • France's President Nicolas Sarkozy addresses journalists during a closing news briefing at the G8 summit iImage Credit: Reuters

Deauville, France: The Group of Eight world powers threw the rich world’s weight behind the Arab Spring on Friday, demanding Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi step down and pledging billions for fledgling democracies.

Whereas the statement agreed by G8 leaders did not put a figure on support for the Arab world, Tunisia’s new finance minister said the total package of aid and loans would amount to $40 billion (Dh147 billion).

Details were sketchy on whether this had broader backing and which countries might be eligible. The leaders said special development banks “could provide over $20 billion, including 3.5 billion euros from the EIB, for Egypt and Tunisia for 2011-2013 in support of suitable reform efforts”.

“What President Sarkozy announced is a global package of $40 billion for the region. This package has not been broken down by country,” Tunisia’s Finance Minister Ayed said. Ayed said foreign and finance ministers from the region would meet before July to break down the programme - designed to kickstart economic development and anchor democratic reform - in more detail.

G8 leaders agreed a statement backing a limited government role in policing the Internet, and to agree on boosting global nuclear safety standards.
Likening the Arab uprising to the fall of the Berlin Wall that changed Europe, G8 leaders, said: “Democracy lays the best path to peace, stability, prosperity, shared growth and development,” the leaders declared, after meeting with prime ministers from post-revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt seeking support for reform.

Presidents and prime ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US met in the French resort of Deauville on the second and final day of the annual Group of Eight summit.

Tough line

They took a tough line with the regimes resisting pro-democratic revolts, warning Libya and Syria to halt the violent repression of their own peoples.
“We demand the immediate cessation of the use of force against civilians by the Libyan regime forces as well as the cessation of all incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population,” they said.

“Gaddafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go.”

Gaddafi exit plan in the offing?

Russia offered to mediate between Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime and Western powers, an offer that was warmly received, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday after the G8 summit.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on the sidelines of the G8 summit, that Gaddafi has exhausted his legitimacy as the Libyan leader.

"It's necessary to find a formula for Gaddafi to leave the post, and such a step would help settle other issues," Ryabkov said, adding that Russia is ready to convey such signals to the Libyan side.