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Africa wants G8 to honour pledges

L'AQUILA, Italy (Reuters) - Africa takes centre stage at the Group of Eight summit on Friday, with wealthy nations eager to reassure critics they will honour past aid pledges and approve a new $15 billion (9.17 billion pounds) agriculture programme.

After two days of talks focussed on the economic crisis, trade and global warming, the final day of the G8 gathering in Italy will concentrate on the problems facing the world's poorest nations.

Development of Africa has become an important item on G8 agendas following promises by world leaders at Gleneagles in 2005 to increase annual aid levels by $50 billion by 2010, half of which was meant to go to African countries.

However, aid organisations say some capitals have gone back on their word, especially this year's G8 host Italy, and African heads of state said they would voice their concerns.

"The key message for us is to ask the G8 to live up to their commitments," Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told Reuters this week before flying to Italy for the half-day meeting.

The l'Aquila summit has produced chequered results, making only limited progress in crucial climate talks following the refusal by major developing nations to sign up to the goal of halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"There is a bit of frustration because one would like to convince everyone about everything and obtain all the results straight way, but things are progressing," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters on Thursday night.

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