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Development Issue Dominates 1st Day of Debate in UN Summit

The UN summit started its first day of debate Wednesday and many leaders from the developing world reiterated their commitment to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals while appealing for rich countries to do their job.


The goals seek to slash a host of socioeconomic ills, such as extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases, by 2015.


Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo said an open international trade system and an international financial system based on prospective and non-discriminatory rules are essential for the promotion of development.


He called on developed countries to increase investment and to enhance cooperation for development and transfer of technology to complement the national efforts of middle-income countries.


He warned that if the international community does not properly address these special circumstances, internal instability in these countries will increase the potential for major regional instability.


Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa noted that the debates about whether the solution to poverty in Africa and elsewhere is more money have been going on for too long.


While acknowledging it is not simply a question of money, the president said that without money, few strategies, if any, would succeed. He argued that good governance is necessary, but that alone it could not eradicate poverty.


He urged the developed countries to fulfill their responsibilities by improving the effectiveness of development assistance.


"Aid is not charity; it is investment in peace, security and human solidarity," he said.


On his part, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said he was pleased that the economies of many African countries are now growing fast, as African leaders are working together to uplift life on the continent through various initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).


But he noted that access to the markets of developed countries is still a major problem. Though the pledges for the flow of development assistance have increased, actual disbursement still remains limited. Debt servicing is taking a huge proportion of revenues that could otherwise be used for development.


The president urged developed countries to increase development assistance and debt relief so that developing countries can genuinely benefit from the debt relief initiatives and be put on the path to sustained growth.


Mexican President Vicente Fox said the concept of security that the UN now assumes has a multidimensional character. He underlined that security is not possible if socioeconomic development and respect for human rights are not achieved.


The UN should have a clear concept of development as a shared responsibility, he said.


Around 150 heads of state and government and representatives from 41 other countries are gathering at the UN headquarters in New York for the three-day summit.  


(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2005)


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