Leaders G8 pledges $20 billion in farm aid to poor nations

G8 leaders pledged $20 billion in farm aid to help poor nations feed themselves, surpassing expectations on the final day of a summit that has yielded little progress on climate change and trade.

The United States used the meeting of world leaders to push for a shift toward farm aid from food aid and will make $3.5 billion available to the 3-year program. But African nations reminded the rich of the need to honor past commitments.

"On food security we managed a commitment that mobilizes $20 billion," Italian G8 sherpa Giampiero Massolo said on Friday. That was $5 billion more than originally floated over the 3 years, according to Reuters.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Friday urged the leaders of the world's richest countries to freeze repayments due on loans to Africa in order to help the poorest through the economic crisis.

He said African borrowers should enjoy "preferential terms" and urged the West to reject protectionism in trade and to seek a way to cover the gaps that have appeared in foreign aid budgets during the global slowdown.

The Egyptian leader was addressing a working meeting between the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States and eight African leaders on the closing day of the G8 summit in Italy, informs AFP.

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