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by Ray Fleming
Only one thing can be certain about Mr Blair's meeting with President Bush today. He will not be able to get George W's support on both his two top priorities for the G8 meeting at Gleneagles that he is chairing in five weeks time; these priorities are action on vastly increased support for Africa's impoverished peoples and action on measures to reduce the earth's carbon emissions that create the atmospheric greenhouse effect that causes global warming that leads to climate change. Indeed the British prime minister may not get the American president's support on either although, regardless of what actually happens, there will be a form of words at the press conference to suggest that there has been a meeting of minds if not any firm commitment on early action. Proposals for alleviating Africa's dilemma seem most likely to get at least a partially positive response from the American side. Britain, and most of the other G8 members, are committed to doubling the present level of aid to the poorest countries within the next ten years The target, set more than 30 years ago in the United Nations, is for 0.7 per cent of gross national income to be devoted to Third World development. Britain currently provides a disappointing half of the target; the United States provision is a scandalous 0.18 per cent but Washington has said nothing about reaching the target by 2015. Nonetheless, there is a strong pro-development assistance lobby in America and it is being vocal about the Gleneagles meeting. Yesterday the New York Times advised President Bush, “Just Do Something” and pointed out that, “At a time when the image of the United States abroad is at rock-bottom in many parts of the world, President Bush could go a long way towards re–establishing the world's richest country as the moral leader it was in the last century. He can do that by supporting his most reliable inernational ally in this crucial effort and taking to heart the world's poorest and most wretched place.”