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Germany and Britain have announced that they are to join forces to help Africa. The two countries' development aid ministers vowed to better coordinate and extend their policies during Berlin's G8 and EU presidencies.
Britain hailed Germany's efforts in Africa and pledged to help expand them
German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and Britain's International Development Secretary Hilary Benn recalled the success of Germany's debt cancellation initiative which has freed enormous resources in many of the world's poorest nations.
Both ministers agreed that everything must be done to preserve the spirit of the previous G8 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, and see to it that promises of financial aid for Africa must be fulfilled without any if or buts. Benn welcomed announcements made in Berlin that development policies would remain a top priority throughout Germany's current G8 and EU presidencies.
Benn welcomes German emphasis on development
Benn, center right, urged support for G8 policies on Africa
"If we care about the future of this small and fragile planet of ours, we must be moved by the conditions of fellow human beings, children who can't yet go to primary school at the beginning of the 21st century, children who die of diseases that our children don't die of in the rich world," Benn said. "And we have both a moral and a practical responsibility to play a part.
"That's why we welcome enormously the focus which Germany and its G8 and EU presidencies is putting on development, on education, the fight against HIV and AIDS, good governance and honoring the promises which we have made."
Wieczorek-Zeul warned that climate change could have a devastating impact on Africa, wiping out all benefits from earlier and current measures to help the continent. She reiterated her call on the industrialized world and threshold nations to heed the writings on the wall.
Wieczorek-Zeul highlights importance of renewables
Wieczorek-Zeul fears climate change could wreck efforts
"We'll have to spend 20 times as much on curbing climate change effects in future if we don't act now," the German minister said. "This is why the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency are central planks of our policies during our G8 and EU presidencies.
It's clear that increased cooperation in this area among our countries is to gain currency."
Wieczorek-Zeul's British counterpart added that efforts had to be increased to arrive at a fair international trade order.
"We have to be determined not to give up the fight to get a trade deal that allows developing countries to earn their way out of poverty," Benn said. "Because in the end they don't want charity. They don't to be patted on the head by the rest of the world. They want a chance to do it for themselves.
"The trouble is we're stuck," he continued. "We've got three big blocs. We have Europe, we have the US, we have the big developing countries China, India and Brazil, and each is saying to the other we think we've made a good offer -- it's up to you to move. But we must not lose this most important opportunity.
Wieczorek-Zeul and Benn also indicated that the G8 summit at Heiligendamm in June this year would have something special in store for the developing world. However, both ministers refused to be more specific, as preparations for the meeting have only recently started.