Tags: Slams | U.S. | AIDS | Money | Pledge

EU Slams U.S. AIDS Money Pledge

Sunday, 01 June 2003 12:00 AM

Last month, Congress agreed to block $15 billion to combat AIDS over the next five years and, speaking in Krakow, Poland Saturday, President Bush urged the European partners to match America's commitment.

Stung by the United States' apparent attempt to one-up the EU -- the world's largest donor of development aid -- Prodi lashed out at the much-vaunted U.S. plan on a day dominated by television images of Bush shaking hands with French President Jacques Chirac for the first time in over six months.

In dissecting the $15 billion proffered by the United States, Prodi said $5 billion was "old money" and $9 billion would still require the approval of Congress, leaving only $1 billion in the pipeline.

"We are giving more than that, so I had no difficulties saying we'd match that -- or even do better," the former Italian premier told journalists at the end of a meeting between G8 leaders and heads of state from a clutch of poor countries.

"We have to avoid making commitments when the money is not on the table," said Prodi, who also criticized the U.S. for only earmarking 10 percent of the funds for AIDS prevention.

However, meeting host Chirac took an altogether different view of the $15 billion offer, magnanimously describing it as "historic." In announcing plans to triple France's contribution to the Global AIDS Fund from $50 to $100 million a year, the 70-year old leader said: "France totally approves the American initiative. It has saluted it and approved it."

Chirac and Bush had differed sharply over U.S. efforts to win the United Nations' blessings for the invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, in a day devoted to development issues, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva caused waves by calling for a tax on the sale of weapons.

Chirac said he was "very much in favor" of studying the proposals; however it was Prodi's comments that threatened to reopen old raw wounds between the EU and the United States.

In addition to brushing aside Bush's AIDS plan, the European Commission head also slammed Washington for failing to live up to a United Nations goal of increasing development spending to 0.7 percent of national gross domestic product.

The United States currently spends 0.12 percent of GDP on aid, roughly half the EU amount of 0.23 percent.

Prodi also dismissed American proposals to fight poverty in Africa by promoting free trade.

"The idea that trade solves all problems is out of reality," he said. "You can't build primary schools in Africa with private investment."

At the end of a first day session that was long on rhetoric but short on concrete commitments, G8 leaders did sign on to a plan to assist African nations in carrying out peacekeeping operations on the continent.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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Last month, Congress agreed to block $15 billion to combat AIDS over the next five years and, speaking in Krakow, Poland Saturday, President Bush urged the European partners to match America's commitment. Stung by the United States' apparent attempt to one-up the EU --...
Slams,U.S.,AIDS,Money,Pledge
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2003-00-01
Sunday, 01 June 2003 12:00 AM
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