News and Information

Mandela puts African agenda on the table
November 29, 2004
London - Former South African president Nelson Mandela met British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Friday to discuss the British leader's personal project to spearhead development activities in Africa.

Mandela, 86, had an hour of discussions with Blair at Downing Street on Friday morning, a spokesperson for the prime minister's office told reporters.

"The discussion was mainly about the Commission for Africa. They talked about other international issues, but the focus was on the commission," he said.

The commission was established by Blair in February as the centrepiece of his aim to make African development a key objective in 2005, when Britain holds the rotating presidencies of both the European Union and the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations' club.

It brings together 17 international dignitaries, nine of them African, ranging from Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to Irish pop star turned charity organiser Bob Geldof, as well as Blair himself.

The commission met last month in Ethiopia, and is currently engaged in a consultation process ahead of a full report on Africa's future to be released early next year.

In an impassioned speech in Addis Ababa during the commission's meeting, Blair called for massive international support for Africa, describing his personal crusade for the continent as "the one noble cause worth fighting for".

Earlier during his visit to London, the anti-apartheid hero donned his former prison identification number 46664 for a fundraising event aimed at fighting the Aids/HIV epidemic.

Mandela, wearing 46664 T-shirt, oversaw the launch on Thursday of 46664: The Concert, a book of photographs taken at an Aids benefit concert last year.


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