African Leaders Call on G8 To Honor Promises of Aid

TOYAKO, Japan — African leaders urged the Group of Eight on Monday to keep promises to help their continent and pleaded with them to remember that soaring oil and food prices were making their poverty worse.

The issue of African poverty topped the agenda at the start of a three-day G8 summit in Japan, closely linked with rising food and fuel prices and the contentious topic of how to fight global warming, which the leaders will tackle later in the week.

The G8 has been accused by activists of reneging on the promise made at its 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to double aid by 2010 to $50 billion, half of which would go to Africa.

"Some African leaders just wanted to emphasize that while appreciating G8 leaders' commitment to help Africa in past G8 summits, they just wanted to point that they would like to see these commitments fully implemented," Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said.

Citing a final draft of the G8 leaders' communique, Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported Monday that they would call rising food and oil prices a "serious threat."

Japan invited the leaders of Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania to join the day's discussion at a luxury hotel wreathed in fog on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Global warming, meanwhile, will be the focus of an expanded meeting Wednesday that will include China and India, two fast-growing economies that are pumping out more and more greenhouse gases.

But deep divisions within the G8, as well as between rich and poor nations, have raised doubts about the chances for progress beyond last year's summit, where the G8 agreed to "seriously consider" a global goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.