As U.S. President George W. Bush skipped the Friday morning session of the Group of Eight summit for not being well, leaders of the world’s richest countries agreed on a $60 billion pledge to fight AIDS and other killer diseases ravaging Africa and restated broader promises to double development spending.
"We are aware of our responsibilities and will fulfill our obligations," German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting Group of Eight leaders, told reporters on the final day of the summit.
G8 leaders meeting in Heiligendamm, northern Germany, vowed to recommit themselves to their pledges to increase aid by 50 billion dollars per year by the end of the decade, of which half will go to Africa.
They further committed 60 billion dollars for help in tackling HIV/AIDS which is ravaging the continent, funding and support for peacekeeping in Africa and the ability of poorer nations to trade their goods.
"The important thing about what we have agreed today is that we have recommitted ourselves to all the commitments we made a couple of years ago at Gleneagles," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, referring to the 2005 summit he chaired in Scotland.
"But the important thing is we have set out how we are going to do them."
African nations also recommitted themselves to their responsibilities in areas such as good governance, democratic processes and anti-corruption, said Blair, who has put the plight of the continent as one of his top priorities.
"The truth is there has been immense progress made and probably one really important indication of that is that Japan has said that for next year's G8, Africa is going to be right at the centre of the agenda and that's got to be good news," he added.
But the declaration set out no specific timetable, saying the money would flow "over the coming years". Neither did it break down individual countries' contributions.
Campaigners for Africa say, however, the pledge is made up largely of money which has already been announced, including $30 billion from the United States.
Bush on sick leave
Bush, meanwhile, was laid low by a stomach bug and failed to attend the morning session.
White House counselor Dan Bartlett told reporters Bush, who turned 61 on
Wednesday, got up Friday to get dressed and realized he was "very much under the weather," although the condition was "not serious."
The U.S. president held one morning meeting with France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy in his suite at the luxury hotel in Heiligendamm where he is based for the summit, officials said.
"President Bush is slightly indisposed this morning and will rejoin the working meeting as soon as he can," Sarkozy said after the hour-long meeting, the first between the two since the French leader was elected last month.
Bartlett said: "I'm not sure if it's a stomach virus yet or something like that, but (he's) just not feeling well in the stomach."
The White House said Bush had sent his regrets to the other summit leaders and that the U.S. envoy to the Group of Eight, Dave McCormack, was standing in for him at the meetings.
There was no immediate change to plans for Bush to go on to Poland as schedule after the summit finishes on Friday afternoon.
Bush hurt himself at the Gleneagles G8 summit in Scotland in July 2005 when he fell off a mountain bike, scraping his hands and arm.
Bartlett joked Friday that Bush did not want to follow in the footsteps of his father, former president George Bush, who fell ill and collapsed at a state dinner during a summit in Tokyo in 1992.