HUNDREDS of people from Oxford were due to travel to the G8 world leaders' meeting in Birmingham today.

They will join a vast human chain of tens of thousands of people, asking world leaders like Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin to cancel the debts of the world's poorest countries by 2000.

Organisations belonging to the Jubilee 2000 Coalition include Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid and all major Christian denominations.

They say the burden of repaying loans from, for example, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, is crippling poor countries all over the world and leaving them unable to meet the most basic educational or health needs of their people.

Oxford organiser Jennifer Smith, of the World Development Movement, said: "We are excited to represent Oxford in the Jubilee 2000 Coalition human chain in Birmingham. Blair, Clinton and the other leaders will not be able to ignore our calls for faster and increased debt relief."

The leaders of the world's eight richest nations gathered in Birmingham to discuss economic issues like Third World debt and the crisis in Indonesia.

The Jubilee 2000 protesters will form their chain at 3pm today and intend to present a petition signed by millions of people from around the world to the politicians.

Local events held by the coalition in Oxford already include a public meeting at the town hall and a stunt with people chained to signify the slavery of debt.

Four coachloads of people left St Giles in Oxford for Birmingham at 9.15am.

A 100-strong fleet of Cowley-built Rover 800 executive cars is being provided by Rover Group this weekend to transport VIPs during the G8 summit. Rover also provided vehicles for use during the Eurovision Song Contest.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.