Aid groups question Group of 8 plan to fight African hunger

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A plan to improve agriculture in poor countries through private investment won a tepid welcome Friday from humanitarian agencies, which said the Group of 8 major industrialized nations should stick to its previous commitment to donate $7.3 billion a year.

The G-8's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition announced Friday to fight global hunger calls on multinational corporations to invest $3 billion in agriculture in developing countries, mainly in Africa. But aid agencies questioned whether the money would reach the small farms that grow most of the continent's food.

With more than half Africa’s population living on $1.25 a day and a quarter suffering chronic hunger, fostering a “green revolution” across the continent is seen as the way to lift populations out of poverty and to provide adequate nutrition.

But global climate change has hit hard in many African countries, making some farm areas marginal and forcing food prices up. Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050, increasing the intense pressure on food resources.

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Putin bows out of G-8 summit at Camp David

Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev
WASHINGTON -- Russian President Vladimir Putin will skip the meeting of leaders of the Group of 8 nations at Camp David next week, citing his responsibilities "to finalize Cabinet appointments in the new Russian government," the White House said Wednesday.

In his place, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will attend the summit, which was moved from Chicago to the presidential retreat.

Obama, "expressed his understanding" of Putin's decision in a phone call between the two leaders Wednesday, according to the White House. They will hold a bilateral meeting during the Group of 20 summit in Mexico in June.

In March, Obama explained that he had decided to move the G-8 gathering from Chicago to the woods of Camp David in part to provide "a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a pretty intimate way."

"It will give me a chance to spend time with Mr. Putin, the new Russian president," Obama told a news conference at the time.

The G-8 summit is scheduled for May 18-19. NATO leaders will meet in Chicago on May 20-21.

In their phone call, Obama and Putin “noted with satisfaction the concrete achievements of the last three years and expressed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of mutual strategic interests,” the White House said.


Vladimir Putin, Russia's new czar guy

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Russia says preemptive strike on NATO missile system is possible

 -- Michael Memoli

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a Victory Day parade in Moscow this week. Credit:  Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times



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