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Bush rejects Blair's debt relief plans at G8

 CAFOD has condemned the backtracking of the G8 today, led by the US, on proposals that would have given Africa a significant boost in efforts to fight poverty. The G8 turned down a proposal put by the UK to give 100% debt cancellation to the world's poorest countries. Instead, the G8 have promised to extend the debt relief scheme until 2006. However, this is the fourth such extension of a debt relief policy that has delivered less than a third of what was promised at the G8 Summit in Cologne five years ago. Henry Northover, CAFOD policy analyst said: "When it comes to standing shoulder to shoulder on Africa - "the scar on the world's conscience" - Bush has dismissed Blair. "The G8's backtracking on debt is shameful - a gross dereliction of previous promises made by the world's richest countries to the world's poorest. The G8 have ignored their commitment made two years ago at their summit in Canada to finance Africa's poverty reduction efforts to meet the internationally agreed development goals. Naked self-interest has won out at the expense of the life chances of millions of the world's poorest. "G8 could have wiped out Africa's debts and given more aid giving the continent a real prospect of achieving the Millennium Development Goals signed up to world leaders in the year 2000. "Apparently the lives of Africans are less important than the strategic interests of the US. This week has witnessed G8 policy-making that ranks the worth of human lives according to the self-interest of the most powerful. It devalues us all. "It is unjust that the grandiose declarations of this year's G8 Summit mask a failing debt policy for Africa and a lavishly financed one for Iraq."