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IN THE NEWS - Poor Nations Get G8 Promise of $20 Billion Toward Food Security

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Leaders of the world's wealthiest nations have promised twenty billion dollars to increase food security in poor countries. The promise came Friday on the third and final day of the Group of Eight summit meeting in L'Aquila, Italy.

Group of Eight leaders meeting to discuss the recession, climate change and development aid in L'Aquila, Italy
Group of Eight leaders meeting to discuss the recession, climate change and development aid in L'Aquila, Italy

The aim is to help fight world hunger through agricultural development programs. The announcement followed talks between G8 leaders and leaders from Africa. The United States has promised three and a half billion dollars toward the three-year program.

A statement noted that while food prices have decreased from their peak last year, they remain high in historical terms. And the economic crisis has only pushed even more people into poverty.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization welcomed the announcement. But some activists say they are waiting for more details. Aid groups have been calling on the G8 nations to honor past promises of food and development assistance.

The G8 summit also dealt with the world recession. President Obama said the leaders agreed that full recovery is still a long way off.

Another issue was climate change. G8 leaders met with partners from major developing economies, including India, China and Brazil. All agreed that global temperatures should not rise by more than an average of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

G8 members promised to work toward an eighty percent cut in heat-trapping pollution by two thousand fifty. Developing nations have committed themselves to negotiating cuts, but have not yet agreed on details.

Still, President Obama said the results were "historic" and helped improve the chances for international negotiations later this year. But U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the targets are too far in the future and that more needs to be done sooner.

Other issues included Iran, North Korea and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

Chinese President Hu Jintao did not attend this week's meeting. He returned home because of the ethnic violence in Xinjiang province in northwest China.

The summit was moved from an island to the area in central Italy where a powerful earthquake struck just three months ago. Nearly three hundred people were killed and tens of thousands lost their homes. Many of the world leaders visited some of the worst-hit areas.

The President and first Lady Michelle Obama arrive in Accra, Ghana, with daughters Sasha and Malia
The President and first Lady Michelle Obama arrive in Accra, Ghana, with daughters Sasha and Malia

At L'Aquila there was also much talk about the future of the G8. The eight are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the most recent addition, Russia. President Obama visited Russia on his way to Italy. Some leaders, including Mister Obama, agreed that the group must expand to deal with today's world.

The president also met Friday with Pope Benedict at the Vatican. Then he headed for a final stop with his family -- Ghana. His father came from Kenya. But the White House says he chose Ghana for his first presidential visit to Africa south of the Sahara because of what he considers its strong democratic system.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

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