G8 to Meet Developing Nations on Digital Divide

TOKYO (07/17/2000) - Ahead of this weekend's Group of Eight summit in Okinawa, Japan, leaders of the world's seven largest industrialized nations will meet Thursday in Tokyo with leaders of developing nations, representatives of the private sector and development organizations to discuss issues related to global poverty and bridging the digital divide.

The meetings, the first held in conjunction with a G8 summit, will include leaders from several African nations and representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Organization of American States and the G-7/E-7. A second round of meetings will also include executives from major information technology companies like Sony Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., and organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Program and World Bank.

They are part of a number of meetings and studies that are laying the ground for the upcoming meeting at which information technology will be top of the agenda.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called on G8 leaders to address the digital divide last week just days after G7 Finance Ministers, in a pre-summit meeting, agreed to promote information technology as a way to boost the world's economies. [See "Annan Calls on G8 to Address Digital Divide," July 12, and "G7 Finance Ministers Agree to Promote IT," July 10.]At a press briefing in Washington on Monday, U.S. Deputy National Economic Advisor Jim Steinberg confirmed IT is at the top of U.S. President Bill Clinton's summit agenda.

"This is something where the president's experience in the domestic context, on closing the domestic digital divide will be helpful as we think about how to address the even more challenging problem of the global digital divide," said Steinberg according to a transcript of the briefing provided by the White House.

"He also will be harking back to his experiences in India, where he observed a new mother getting information about how to care for her baby on the Internet in a local community access site, where he observed people getting their drivers licenses off the Internet in Hyderabad, and also some of the world's leading entrepreneurs functioning in India in a developing economy."

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