Illegal Drugs on Table at G8 Meeting

Involvement of Africa-based al-Qaida Islamic militants in the international narcotics trade is one of the main reasons Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invited leaders of seven African countries, plus Colombia, Jamaica and Haiti, to a special session of this month’s G8 summit of industrial countries.

The seven African invitees are Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

After Harper announced the 10 invitees Sunday, an official cited narcotics channels from the Caribbean and South America to Europe via West Africa, a hub for financing and protection of traffickers by groups in the organization called al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

A relationship between al-Qaida; nomads in sub-Saharan Africa; and the South American FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been singled out by U.S. authorities as a target in counter-terrorism and drug-trafficking efforts.

The Canadian official said a special session on the destabilizing impact of drug trafficking and terrorist bases in the African region will be scheduled at the G8 gathering of eight industrialized nations plus the European Union that Harper is hosting at a resort near Huntsville, Ont., June 25 to 26.

Some of the African representatives and Haiti are also expected to participate in some of the G8 discussions on development aid and Harper’s maternal and child health-care initiative. The G8 is far behind on a pledge to double aid to Africa made at the 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

“The G8 has a long tradition of developing credible solutions to global challenges in partnership with Africa and others in the international community,” Harper’s announcement said. “At this year’s summit, we will be engaging African leaders as well as key hemispheric partners in order to broaden representation and maximize results on international development and peace and security issues.”

An official said there would be two meetings on June 25, one between G8 leaders and the African countries to focus on “mutual accountability” and another where the leaders from the Americas are added “to address shared security concerns.”

Five of the countries are co-founders of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, which have been long-standing G8 interlocutors. They are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

– Article from Edmonton Journal.