Chirac, Blair urge rich nations not to forsake poor countries

Davos, Jan 27 | Updated: Jan 28 2005, 05:30am hrs
A power-packed panel of world and social leaders is on Thursday scheduled to turn its attention to the problems plaguing Africa - including poverty, lack of education and aids - following calls by the leaders of France and Britain for rich nations to unite to pull the rest of the globe out of misery.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair kicked off the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps by reading off a litany of depressing statistics in underlining the urgency in dealing with African poverty.

300 million Africans lack safe drinking water

3,000 African children under the age of 5 die every day from malaria.

6,000 Africans die daily of AIDS.

We know all of this. So what can be done Mr Blair asked a congregation of the worlds business, intellectual, social and political leaders.

On Thursday, a panel including Blair, Bono, former US president Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, as well as the presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, was debating what can be done to ease Africas suffering, the highlight of a long day of meetings and workshops at the gathering.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Blair urged the US to take the worlds needs into account when it seeks global support for its actions, citing climate change as an issue all nations must address together.