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G8 leaders agree to create AIDS fund
GENOA, Italy Leaders of the world's largest industrial countries agreed today to create a $1 billion global AIDS fund and insisted that they are pursing the right policies to avert a global recession.
As President Bush and the other summit leaders were meeting in an historic palace, police used tear gas, water cannons and batons to battle anti-globalization protesters intent on breaching the security perimeter.
At one point a group of protesters did tear open an outer chain-link fence but were kept from getting inside the secure zone by police who used blasts from a water cannon at close range to force them back as they hurled their bodies against a metal barricade.
At word that the protesters had managed to rip open part of the security fence near Palazzo Ducale, the main summit venue, riot police mobilized helmets and shields in place and positioned a bus to block alley access to the palace.
At a late afternoon news conference, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi proudly announced creation of a $1 billion global health fund to battle AIDS and other infectious diseases in poor nations. Mr. Bush and the other summit leaders attended the announcement along with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
``For the first time, we are seeing the emergence of a response to this deadly disease that begins to match the scale of the epidemic itself,'' Mr. Annan told the assembled leaders. But he said the $1 billion in initial pledges fell short of the $7 billion to $10 billion needed to adequately fight AIDS and other infectious diseases in poor nations.
The G-8 countries have debated over who will have control of the fund. Mr. Bush has said the United States will up its initial pledge of $200 million only after the fund proves successful.
Mr. Annan tried to set a tone of unity, saying ``In this debate, there is no 'us' and 'them,' ... only a common enemy that knows no frontiers and threatens all peoples.''
Protests continued sporadically throughout the day. Summit leaders, while denouncing the tactics, carried on with their scheduled program. Bush criticized the protesters' ``isolationism and protectionism.''
The issurance of a statement covering the economic discussions was delayed after the leaders ordered their aides to add a stronger statement addressing the protesters' charges that the rich nations were not doing enough to help the poor, an aide to Mr. Berlusconi said.
The G-8 leaders were also drafting a letter to Argentine President Fernando de la Rua encouraging austerity measures he has taken to try to contain a foreign debt crisis in his country that is threatening to destabilize other financial markets. Officials said the leaders also reviewed the situation in Turkey, another country currently facing an economic crisis.
By J.T. Young
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