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Merkel's Africa tour directed at boosting G8 political, economic ties

Posted: 2007-10-03
From: Mathaba
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's upcoming visit to three African countries - Ethiopia, South Africa and Liberia - is aimed at deepening relations between the group of industrialized countries (G8) and Africa.

The upcoming visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to three African countries - Ethiopia, South Africa and Liberia - is aimed at deepening relations between the group of industrialized countries (G8) and the black continent, German government circles were quoted as saying in Berlin on Tuesday.

As the current head of the G8, the chancellor will reaffirm her interest in a comprehensive political and economic cooperation with Africa during the five-day tour, set to begin Wednesday, a high- ranking German government source said.

The German leader has repeatedly stressed the importance of boosting aid for Africa.

"We know that we can really help with our resources ... and we want to show to this continent our understanding of freedom, justice and solidarity is not limited to us, but goes for the whole world," she said.

Merkel has outlined major points for assisting Africa, including ongoing debt relief programs, raising development aid funds and promoting the anti-HIV/AIDS campaign.

She has also warned of the dangerous impact of global climate change for Africa.

The chancellor has called for boosting democratic political and economic reforms as well as good governance in Africa.

She is to address aspects of human rights violations and protecting press freedom during her stops in Ethiopia and South Africa, it was said in Berlin.

Merkel will also highlight the "important role" of Africa's regional powers, Ethiopia and South Africa, in helping to settle conflicts in places like Darfur, Sudan or war-stricken Somalia, according to German government circles.

Meanwhile, the chancellor's trip to Liberia is "to symbolize the G8 support for good governance" after years of civil war, a government source pointed out.

A major objective of Merkel's talks with African Union (AU) leaders in Ethiopia which headquarters the AU, will be promoting relations with the G8, the official added.

The chancellor's second visit to Africa in less than a year comes also against the backdrop of China's mounting political, economic and even cultural influence on the African continent.

German political leaders have made clear that the G8 interest in Africa is also because of the abundant natural resources on the continent, and the open political advances of emerging developing countries such as India and China in tapping such resources.

African-Chinese overall trade volume has risen fivefold since 2000 to reach 50 billion US dollars last year.

Chinese investment has reportedly increased to more than 5.5 billion US dollars in 43 African countries since 2000, making China Africa's third-largest economic partner, only behind the United States and France.

Such a rapid economic growth sparked Merkel to declare that Europe "should not leave the commitment to Africa to the People's Republic of China."

"We must take a stand in Africa," the chancellor was quoted as saying earlier.

Merkel's push for an even greater economic presence in Africa is highlighted by a 21-member top business delegation which will accompany her during the trip.

Germany's largest trade partner in Africa remains South Africa with a total volume of 11 billion euros last year, up 14 percent from 2005.

Another focus of Merkel's tour will be on charting out investment opportunities in Africa, an official said.

The HIV-AIDS plague in Africa will also play a major role in the German leaders talks with African politicians.

Last week, Merkel hosted an international donor conference on Aids, tuberculosis and malaria in Berlin, warning of the "existential threat" of the three killer diseases for mankind.

"The three infectious diseases mean an existential threat and endless suffering to millions of people," the German politician said in her inaugural speech to the Global Fund meeting.

Some 30 donor countries pledged 10 billion US dollars in global efforts to battle Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. --IRNA
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