White House expects support for North Africa aid

AP News
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Posted: May 20, 2011 12:26 PM
White House expects support for North Africa aid

The White House expects world leaders to back President Barack Obama's call for financial assistance for Tunisia and Egypt during next week's G-8 meetings, but said it's unlikely the summit will produce a deal on an aid package.

Interim prime ministers of Tunisia and Egypt will attend the summit in Deauville, France to present their plans for stabilizing and modernizing their economies. While U.S. officials say G-8 countries will discuss their role in that process, they say it's too soon to reach a deal on dollar amounts for assistance.

One Obama aide described the G-8 special session on Tunisia and Egypt as the first step in the process, not a pledging session.

Obama appealed for assistance to emerging democracies during a sweeping speech Thursday on the upheaval in the Middle East and Africa. The president said the region's success in transitioning to democracy will depend in part on stable economies.

"We must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year," he said. "And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs."

A top French official said G-8 countries would announce a partnership for financial aid and investment during the summit that would be aimed at Tunisia and Egypt, but open to other countries in the region that move forward with democratic transitions. The official said the partnership would be similar to the assistance the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provided for countries in Central and Eastern Europe during their transitions from communism to democracy.

The official insisted on anonymity in order to speak about summit plans ahead of next week's meeting.

Obama will attend the G-8 summit in France as part of a four-country, six-day swing through Europe that will also take him to Ireland, England and Poland.

The sweeping political change in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to be a common theme throughout Obama's trip, with European allies looking to more clearly define the West's response to unrest in the region.

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Associated Press writer Greg Keller in Paris contributed to this report.