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G8 throws its weight behind 'Arab spring'

G8 throws its weight behind 'Arab spring'
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The G8’s final day of talks involved meeting several African leaders, and included a promise of financing for Tunisia and Egypt, the leaders of the so-called “Arab spring” of popular revolts against authoritarian leaders.

The more than 28 billion euro package comes from multilateral development banks, bilateral aid, and from a new Gulf states-backed fund.

“These countries are facing right now many shocks. The price of food and fuel has gone up, they’re paying more for borrowing, they get less tourism. So they need financing to help meet their immediate balance of payments’ needs. That’s where the IMF can come in,” said the IMF’s Middle East department Director Masood Ahmed.

Money will also be available for fledgling pro-democracy groups in Syria and for the Libyan opposition, which the summiteers had said was one of their priorities.

“But it’s not just about the economy, it’s about a bigger engagement with those societies, with those civil societies, and I think they are ready. Let’s now do everything we can to support this Arab spring,” said EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Invited to the talks were Tunisia’s interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and his Egyptian counterpart Essam Charaf. They expect the details to be worked out in July.