G8 pledges $20 bln to foster Arab Spring

By REUTERS

DEAUVILLE, France: The Group of Eight promised $20 billion in aid to Tunisia and Egypt on Friday and held out the prospect of billions more to foster the Arab Spring and the new democracies emerging from popular uprisings.

Likening it to the fall of the Berlin Wall that changed Europe, G8 leaders ending an annual summit in France launched a partnership for North Africa and the Middle East that ties aid and development credits to progress on political and economic reforms by states which have thrown off autocratic rulers.

Most is in the form of loans rather than outright grants, to the two countries in the vanguard of protest movements which have swept the Arab world from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Egypt and Tunisia are planning to hold free elections this year.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that on top of $20 billion of credits provided by the World Bank and similar regional lenders dominated by the major powers, there would be as much again from other sources — $10 billion from Gulf states and $10 billion from other governments. read more

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