Leading article: The spirit of Gleneagles

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The Independent Online

Whatever the problems we face in Britain, they are small set against the scale of world poverty. This week's UN summit is the greatest test of the credibility of international institutions since the Iraq war, offering the chance to follow through the agreement on African development at the G8 in Gleneagles. As Mr Blair said then, "Africa is the only continent which, without change, will not meet any of the Millennium Development Goals."

Just as importantly, however, the New York summit offers the chance to reform the UN so that it is more likely than in the past to implement any fine-sounding words on poverty relief issued this week, as Lord Hannay argues on page 23.

The greatest obstacle to achieving these goals is the hostility of the Bush administration. President Bush will try to use the oil-for-food scandal to distract and weaken Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General. But this tactic can be used to help make the case for more effective UN.

There is no one better placed than Mr Blair to serve as the pivot of geopolitical diplomacy. As the architect of the Gleneagles agreement, holding the EU presidency and as the First Friend of the Bush administration, the PM is uniquely qualified to coax the US into supporting the renewal of the UN and its mandate to tackle world poverty. The momentum of Gleneagles must not be squandered.