G8 pledges $20 billion for Arab Spring

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 on top of $20 billion of credits provided by the World Bank and regional lenders dominated by major powers, there would be as much again from other sources — $10 billion from oil-rich Gulf Arab states and $10 billion from other governments.

Other countries could hope for aid in future. In a statement after the two-day summit in the northern resort of Deauville, the G8 leaders signalled they “strongly support the aspirations of the Arab Spring as well as those of the Iranian people.”

“The changes under way in the Middle East and North Africa are historic and have the potential to open the door to the kind of transformation that occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” the G8 said.

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