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India ups Third World diplomacy, to unveil new measures

Wednesday February 16, 2011 08:01:19 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the gathering momentum for the UN Security Council expansion, India Friday will announce additional soft loans and other concessions for Least Developed Countries from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America at a two-day conference here that will bring together 35 ministers from these countries.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will inaugurate the ministerial conference, the first of its kind being hosted by India. Besides some 35 foreign ministers and ministers, 40 permanent representatives to the UN from the LDCs will be participating.

The ministers are also expected to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Announcing the conference, a major show of India's solidarity with Third World countries and the South-South cooperation, Hardeep Singh Puri, India's permanent representative to the UN, said it will reiterate New Delhi's commitment to the poorest of poor countries of the world.

The conference will culminate in an outcome document entitled the Delhi Declaration for LDCs Saturday, Puri said.

Puri said India will announce additional contributions for LDCs at the conference, but declined to specify the nature of those concessions.

The conclave takes place at a time when India is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and is pushing hard for its expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories.

Puri, however, clarified that India will not be using the forum to make its case for a permanent seat on an expanded UN Security Council, but to showcase the multi-faceted developmental partnership.

It has to be seen in the context of India's commitment to South-South cooperation, said Puri, adding that the North-South paradigm and South-South cooperation are essentially different.

The conference will act as a precursor to the fourth conference on LDCs in Istanbul, Turkey, May 9-13. The Istanbul conference will come out with an ambitious agenda of lifting at least half of 48 least developed countries from this grouping which includes countries with grim development indices.

The foreign minister of Turkey, the host of the fourth LDC Conference, will also be present.

The UN Office of High Representative for LDC, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) is assisting the government of India in hosting the event.

The overarching theme of the conference is "harnessing the positive contribution of South-South Cooperation for development of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)".

The Istanbul Conference is the fourth in the series of the UN-LDC Conferences held so far: the first two in 1981 and 1991 were held in Paris and the third in Brussels in 2001.

India enjoys a multi-dimensional relationship with LDCs and has been in the forefront of assisting their development through generous lines of credit and other forms of assistance.

Over the decades, the foreign direct investment (FDI) from India to LDCs has increased dramatically, and is estimated to be around $35 billion.

India has provided 4.3 billion lines of credit to LDCs over the years.

During the last United Nations review in 2009, the UN defined LDCs as those countries which have a three-year average estimate of gross national income (GNI) per capita of less than $905. Countries with populations over 75 million are excluded.







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