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U.K.'s Blair Mulls Debt Relief


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Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government may back French and German proposals to halt debt payments from Somalia and Indonesia, two of the countries hit hardest by the weekend's earthquake and tsunamis that killed 115,000 people in the Indian Ocean.

``We are leading the world in trying to create debt relief,'' Hilary Benn, the cabinet secretary in charge of international aid, said in an interview on British Broadcasting Corp. radio today. ``This is one of the issues the world community will look at.''

French President Jacques Chirac said today the Paris Club of 19 creditor nations should delay debt-repayments by the countries worst-hit by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunamis.

Yesterday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the Paris Club should consider a debt moratorium for Indonesia and Somalia. The group meets next in January.

According to the Paris Club's Web site, Somalia has two rescheduling agreements with the creditor nations -- one drawn up in 1987 covering $132 million and a earlier accord drawn up in 1985 covering $39 million.

Indonesia has three outstanding debt agreements with the Paris Club after fully repaying four. Those three agreements, drawn up in 1998, 2000 and 2002, covered a total of $15 billion, according to the Web site. Indonesia's total debt to the Paris Club was $41.4 billion as of Jan. 31, 2002.

Even before the disaster, Blair had set in motion plans for debt relief for poor nations as a focus of the Group of Eight nations when the U.K. leads the organization next year.

``The government already is involved in helping heavily indebted countries,'' Anne Shevas, a spokeswoman for Blair, said at a briefing. ``There will be a more general discussion about helping heavily indebted countries.''

The death toll in Indonesia could now be as high as 79,940, the Health Ministry has said.


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Total death toll now stands at 125,000, and riseing.

The USA is also in talks to issue debt releif, but only to Indonesia and Shi Lanka.

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Every country affceted should be considered for debt relief during this ordeal, some of these areas will never recover and need all teh help they can possibly get!

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