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G-8 leaders discuss Africa, Kosovo

The leaders of Group of Eight agreed on US$60 billion in HIV/AIDS assistance on Friday as diplomats worked on a possible deal with Russia over the future of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

The leaders began their first working session of the day without U.S. President George W. Bush, who was ill and stayed in his room after meeting privately with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The others met with the presidents of Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria. Earlier, Germany's development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said in Berlin that G-8 leaders had approved earmarking an additional US$60 billion in HIV/AIDS assistance for Africa.

Sarkozy said he and Bush discussed Kosovo - and that the leaders would talk more about the subject after their deputies worked late into the night to find agreement on the province's future.

The United States and the European Union back a U.N. resolution to give the predominantly ethnic Albanian province supervised independence. Kosovo has been under U.N. supervision since a NATO-led air war in 1999 to halt a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Serbia, however, considers Kosovo its historic heartland, and has resisted ceding the province. The Russians, Serbia's traditional ally, say they oppose any solution imposed over Belgrade's objections.

Sarkozy has proposed imposing a six-month wait on the resolution, during which Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanians would hold further talks. If they reach no agreement, the U.N. plan would then take effect.

Officials "worked through part of the night on the Kosovo issue. At the moment, we have not achieved the necessary progress, and I remind you that in my proposal, the key question that I posed was recognizing the need for Kosovo to achieve independence within a certain timeframe," Sarkozy said Friday.

"We are going to discuss the issue this morning."

In Pristina, Kosovo's prime minister urged the West not to betray Kosovo.

"I want to say this to the international community: We have trusted you to bring clarity to Kosovo. We have committed to the U.N. path and we have been very patient," Ceku told The Associated Press on Friday. "I urge you; do not betray this trust."

G-8 leaders also were meeting Friday with the heads of state of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, as well as key international figures from the U.N., World Bank, World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund.

On Thursday, the leaders reached an agreement on climate change, adopting a statement that says they should "seriously consider" proposals to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050. The nonbinding language is a compromise between the European Union, which wants mandatory cuts, and the United States, which opposes them.

The thousands of protesters who swarmed around the fence sealing off the summit Wednesday and Thursday were gone Friday, with a final anti-G-8 demonstration set for the afternoon in nearby Rostock.

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