Teenagers to take part in G-8 summit

Teenagers from industrial and developing countries are hoping to make the Group of Eight leaders hear their concerns about poverty, climate change, AIDS and other issues at this week's summit in Germany.

A group of about 70 young people from the so-called "Junior 8 Summit," organized by the U.N. Children's Fund, was meeting Tuesday with the summit's host, Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On Thursday, they are slated to meet the other G-8 leaders - from Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - at the summit in Heiligendamm.

Salwa Aman, 16, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said she wanted world leaders to pay particular attention to poverty and AIDS in Africa - something that Merkel has pledged will be a focus.

"A whole working class is dying in Africa because of AIDS and we are losing all our hard workers," said the high school student, who helps street children and people with AIDS in her free time. "We need a more secure place to live in. We want you to give us peace."

"I believe that young people should engage in the world's problems," Olga Peshekhonova, 17, from Vyborg, Russia told reporters ahead of the meeting at the chancellery in Berlin with Merkel. "We can make a change and help solve the world's problems."

The teenagers are holding a weeklong forum of their own in the northern German port of Wismar - debating the topics that will occupy the world leaders this week that are particularly relevant to children.

UNICEF estimates that about 5.5 million children die from malnutrition each year. It says some 15 million children have been orphaned by AIDS and about 2.3 million under-15s have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The teenagers traveled to Berlin with prominent support from former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore, a UNICEF ambassador, who appealed to the G-8 leaders to pay attention to them.

"They are so much wiser than my generation because they are more tolerant," said Moore, 79. "I sincerely hope the G-8 leaders will listen to them."

Steffen Parth, a 17-year-old high school student from Egelsbach, Germany, said he looked forward to learning more about "what does a young American think about climate protection, what can teenagers from poor parts of the world tell me about their situation."

Asked if he believed the world's leaders would seriously consider the teenagers' demands, he said: "They need to listen to us - it is our future."