Blair sets off on diplomatic tour to secure support for Africa aid plan

Tony Blair is to embark on a frantic round of diplomacy in an attempt to persuade the world's richest nations to agree a new plan to help the poorest at the G8 summit in July.

The Prime Minister will meet the leaders of Italy, Germany and the US, thought to be most likely to scupper a historic agreement, proposed by Britain, to tackle Africa's problems by doubling aid to the developing world from $50bn (£27bn) to $100bn a year.

British officials deny that the proposal, first made by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is in trouble, saying that the aim of Mr Blair's tour is to "keep up momentum" before July's meeting at Gleneagles. Despite his bad back, he is expected to clock up more than 50,000 miles in the next four weeks.

But there are growing fears that the three countries may regard Britain's blueprint as too ambitious and costly, and be more concerned about economic problems closer to home.

Mr Blair's talks will also cover proposals to improve governance in Africa and climate change, two main priorities for Britain's year in the rotating presidency of the G8.

The Prime Minister will begin his offensive in Rome on Friday, when he will meet Silvio Berlusconi, his Italian counterpart. He will also travel to Washington for talks with President George Bush, their first meeting since November, and to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. He will also meet the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, and the French President, Jacques Chirac, who is more sympathetic. He will also hold video conferences with the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.

America has never been keen on the British aid plan and Mr Blair's attempt to rally President Bush behind it could be undermined by the scepticism in Rome and Berlin. Some officials fear that the US will feel less pressure to back it if European Union countries are divided.

But Blair aides say that countries are not yet declaring their hand in what will be a complex negotiation. They insist that the pressure could cut both ways: if Mr Bush throws his weight behind the British proposals, it could act as a lever on Germany and Italy.

Announcing the diplomatic offensive yesterday, Mr Blair's official spokes-man said: "We have set out an ambitious agenda for the G8 and this is the time for detailed negotiation. The important point is that no one in the G8 disputes that Africa and climate change must be the priorities. We believe at this stage we are achieving progress, but we still have some way to go."

Mr Blair is determined to ensure that the G8 countries sign up to a package of debt relief for Africa, and a plan to boost good governance and economic reform on the continent. He also hopes to make progress on climate change, despite America's failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty, limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

His spokesman added: "This is a proper negotiation and when you are driving a proper negotiation it's generally counter-productive to comment on the positions of other countries. People will not take up final positions at this stage."

Downing Street pointed to the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York in the autumn and the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong in December as areas where progress could be made. But, it said: "The G8 is a major point in that process and we are going for it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own