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Arab uprisings tops G-8 agenda
DEAUVILLE, FRANCE, May 26 (Agencies):
Published on 26 May. 2011 9:53 PM IST
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Middle Eastern nations that have risen up against authoritarian regimes will get funding and backing from G8 countries in a move to install permanent democracies and bolster Western security, under a joint plan between Britain and the US.
British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived at a meeting of world leaders in France overnight determined to seek support for the pro-democracy movements in North Africa and the Middle East.
Standing alongside Barack Obama at a press conference during the US President’s state visit to London on Wednesday, Mr Cameron made it clear the ‘’Arab spring’’ had to be a ‘’turning point in history’’.
He said the G8 group would discuss how to promote ‘’democracy, freedom and prosperity’’ in the Middle East. So far only the pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia have successfully toppled their leaders.
The summit provides the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US with their first real opportunity to debate the pro-democracy movements sweeping the autocracies of the Arab world.
Mr Obama called on his fellow leaders to help ensure the success of post-revolt political transitions. ‘’It will be years before these revolutions reach their conclusion, and there will be difficult days along the way,’’ he said. ‘’Power rarely gives up without a fight.’’
Mr Obama and Mr Cameron said it was vital that, in Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi should go. But while Mr Cameron said it was time for ‘’turning up the heat in Libya’’, Mr Obama appeared less gung-ho, pointing out that both countries had said there would not be ‘’boots on the ground’’ in Libya.
Both leaders were keen to point out their intervention in Libya was not comparable with the go-it-alone strategy in Iraq of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Russia warned that the summit should not be used as a platform for ‘’instigating pressure and sanctions’’ against Arab regimes that are partners of Moscow.
Tunisian Employment Minister Said Aydi said his country was hoping G8 leaders would unveil a ‘’major support plan’’ - about $US25 billion ($A23.8 billion) - to aid its transition to democracy.
On the eve of the summit, Washington urged its G8 partners to help Egypt convert its debts into investments for jobs as part of efforts to boost the country’s flagging economy and fledgling democracy.
After an ‘’e-G8’’ of leading technology industry figures before the summit in Paris, France is expected to propose a statement on ‘’respecting freedoms’’ on the web, a jab at censorship in rising powers such as China. Industry moguls including Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg were also due to attend the summit.
Two other key issues will be tackled during the main meeting: the options for relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and achieving a consensus on choosing a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund. European G8 members appear to be lining up behind French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to replace her compatriot.
Thousands of police have been deployed as part of a massive security operation and checkpoints have been erected on all roads leading to Deauville to prevent an infiltration of anti-globalisation demonstrators.

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