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Learning English - Words in the News
15 July, 2005 - Published 11:56 GMT
Debt relief doubt
Campainers against poverty in Africa

New documents seem to show that a group of European countries are trying to water down the debt cancellation agreed at the G8 meeting in Gleneagles last week. Debt relief was an important part of Tony Blair's package to help fight African poverty. This report from David Loyn.

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Debt, aid and trade - there was some progress at Gleneagles on all three solutions for Africa's problems. But now it appears that there is a concerted attempt by around thirty countries, led by Belgium, to offer less on debt relief than the G8 promised.

According to the leaks, Belgium is demanding that developing countries should have to jump through a new set of hoops in order to have their interest payments not written off but rather paid by the developed world for the term of their loan - new conditions attached.

Now if this were passed, the proposal would mean that countries which were the most corruptly governed would be saddled with the worst debt repayments. America and Britain oppose this amendment but some other European countries, in particular Germany, have always been lukewarm on debt relief and might be swayed.

Listen to the words

water down
to make something less extreme or less forceful

a concerted attempt
a real effort

debt relief
helping countries which owe money to cope with their problem

secret information which becomes public

jump through a new set of hoops
do a lot of new difficult things so that you can have something you want

written off

corruptly governed
ruled by dishonest leaders

oppose this amendment
are against the change

not happy about

persuaded to do one thing rather than another

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