AP - British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush hope to revive the deadlocked World Trade Organization talks sometime in the next few weeks, according to a speech Blair planned to deliver Sunday.
SAN FRANCISCO -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush hope to revive the deadlocked World Trade Organization talks sometime in the next few weeks, according to a speech Blair planned to deliver Sunday.
"I have not given up on the WTO trade round," the British prime minister said in the speech to executives and other invited guests at News Corp.'s retreat at the upscale Pebble Beach resort, about 120 miles south of San Francisco.
Blair arrived in California on Friday after a meeting with Bush in Washington, where they discussed the situation in the Middle East. The two lunched at the White House and discussed the stalled Doha trade talks, Blair said.
"We both agreed that we needed to make one final effort to re-energize the negotiation, and I hope we can do so within the next few weeks," Blair said in his speech, which was released to reporters before it was delivered. Blair's appearance at the event was closed to the media.
Before the latest Group of Eight meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, Blair said the negotiations _ named for the Qatari capital where the initiative was launched in 2001 _ were the "single most important issues" that the delegates would address.
The complex discussions, which are two years behind schedule and broke down in Geneva earlier this month, aim to lift millions around the world out of poverty by lowering trade barriers across all sectors, with particular emphasis on developing nations.
But differences between rich and poor countries, as well as the European Union and the United States, have prevented progress.
In his speech, Blair acknowledged he was a "trifle obsessed with Africa" and said the trade talks were important for that continent _ and by extension the rest of the world _ for reasons both moral and selfish.
"How can we tolerate millions, literally millions, dying every year preventably from famine, conflict, and disease?" he said. "In this interdependent world, we are crazy if we leave a continent prey to the forces all too ready to exploit its poverty and misery by giving people an external enemy on which to vent their anger."
The talks were supposed to specifically address the concerns of poorer countries, which claimed that the international trading system was weighted against them because rich nations' farm markets remained highly protected.
Negotiations were suspended after a meeting of ministers from the United States, the EU, Japan, Australia, India and Brazil made it clear that differences over farm subsidies were unbridgeable.