G8 told to focus on climate and the economy

Leaders of the world's five biggest developing nations crank up pressure on their counterparts from the richest for more concessions on poverty and climate warming.

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Leaders of the world's five biggest developing economies cranked up pressure on their counterparts from the richest nations today for more concessions on poverty relief and climate warming. Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa joined an expanded G8 summit determined that international financial institutions use their multi-billion dollar government bailouts to help developing countries emerge from the economic crisis. Banks and other financial institutions must "use their recently augmented resources to mainly help those developing countries which have been seriously affected by the crisis," they said in a joint declaration ahead of the talks. The Mexican president Felipe Calderon told reporters the G5 leaders "are worried about the channelling of resources to restore international credit, especially in developing countries where credit and investment were particularly hard hit by the crisis".

He also voiced "concern about the surge in protectionist practices that impede recovery" amid widespread calls in the United States to do more to shore up domestic markets. Climate change will also be centre stage, and Japan said richer nations hoped to convince the G5 that greening their economies should not necessarily impact on their levels of growth. "We would hope and expect both India and China to introduce energy efficient technologies, making their production lines, steel mills and power stations more eco-friendly or green," Kazuo Kodama, spokesman for the Japanese prime minister Taro Aso said. The talks in the quake-battered Italian town of L'Aquila, come amid differences even among the rich nations over reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with Russia rejecting the G8's ambitious goals to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

"No one wants to sacrifice their economic growth," said the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's top economic advisor Arkady Dvorkovich, echoing the viewpoint of the emerging economies. He rejected the idea of developed countries cutting global emissions by 80 percent by 2050 as "unacceptable and unattainable". Basking in the limelight as summit host, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, glossed over the differences after a opening day which saw G8 leaders unified in condemnation of North Korea's recent missile tests, and expressing "serious concern" over a post-election crackdown in Iran. For Berlusconi himself, it was a welcome relief from a series of scandals over his personal life that have been dogging him since April.

"This day is a recompense after so much bitterness," the ebullient 72-year-old said late Wednesday. "For more than a month I've been targeted by absurd attacks, but this day encourages me to go forward." The G8 issued a strong condemnation of North Korea's May 25 nuclear test, calling it a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions. "Such a test undermines peace and stability in the region and beyond," said the text, which added condemnation of a missile launch in April. On Iran, the G8 issued a joint declaration expressing "serious concern" over post-election violence but did not bow to US demands for tougher sanctions against the regime in Tehran.

The leaders also said they were determined to find a peaceful resolution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, urging Tehran to cooperate with the UN's atomic watchdog. *AFP