Blair advises U.S. to partner

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 1:07 a.m.
DAVOS, Switzerland - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday the United States must do more to address the concerns of the rest of the world if it expects support for its own policies, and he cited global warming as a prime example.
''If America wants the rest of the world to be part of the agenda it has set, it must be part of their agenda, too,'' he told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a gathering of 2,500 world political and business leaders.
Blair and French President Jacques Chirac - who appeared on a video link - both urged the world's richest nations to provide billions of dollars to help developing countries combat AIDS, poverty and natural disasters.
Blair's unusually sharp comments directed at the United States come at a time of growing public anger in Britain over his support for President Bush in Iraq, and months before British general elections.
Alluding to one of the key issues dividing the United States from Europe and much of the world, Blair said he would push climate control agreements.
''I support the Kyoto Protocol. Others will not . . . but business and the global economy need to know this isn't an issue that is going away.''
The British leader added, however, that Bush's speech at his second-term inauguration last week indicated ''there is a wish to reunify'' in Washington.
The World Economic Forum has taken on increased importance in recent years as globalization and common threats - from terrorism to increased vulnerability to natural disasters - have made nations more dependent on each other.
Chirac alluded to such interdependence, saying that natural disasters, political unrest, uncontrolled migration and extremism are ''breeding grounds for terrorism.''
Blair and Chirac said large-scale assistance for the poor can make the world more stable, but outlined different scenarios on how to get there.
Prevented by bad weather from coming to Davos, Chirac suggested in his video message from Paris that rich nations raise billions of aid dollars through new taxes and other measures.
Referring to the Dec. 26 tsunami that struck Asia, he added: ''The world suffers chronically from what has been strikingly called the 'silent tsunamis.' Famine. Infectious diseases that decimate the life force of entire continents.''
Blair said that in Africa, 3,000 children under age 5 die of malaria daily and ''6,000 people die each day of AIDS.''
Britain wants rich nations to set a timetable for raising development aid and for more countries to join the ''International Finance Facility,'' that is designed to double aid to Africa from $50 billion a year.
That would help the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals that foresee cutting poverty in half by 2015, boosting the fight against AIDS and educating some 100 million children not now in school.
While Chirac focused largely on global poverty, Blair also touched on terrorism and global warming.
In his first term, Bush worked hard to rally international opinion behind the fight against terrorism - but his administration also abandoned the 1997 Kyoto climate change agreement, arguing it would hurt American industry.
Blair said the United States and other leading industrialized nations must give a clear signal this year that they are serious about cutting greenhouse gases.
''We need to send a clear signal that whilst we continue to analyze science . . . we are united in moving in the direction of greenhouse gas reductions,'' Blair said.
Chirac outlined steps to raise billions of dollars through taxes on international financial transactions, plane tickets or fuel used by airliners and oceangoing vessels.
He also proposed that countries with bank secrecy laws make a special contribution to Third World aid and that developed nations provide ''coordinated tax incentives'' to stimulate private donations.
The assembled corporate and political leaders - along with advisers and celebrities - spend five days debating various issues in more than 200 workshops.
The forum has been a favorite of top U.S. administration officials in recent years, including Vice President Dick Cheney and former President Clinton, but this year's event will be dominated by European leaders as key American officials stay away because of personnel changes in the Bush administration, organizers said. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is scheduled to attend, the only member of Bush's Cabinet.

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