Gandhi’s words start off Turkey conference of LDCs

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Istanbul : A conference of 50 of the world's least developed countries (LDCs) kicked off in Istanbul Monday with the words of Mahatma Gandhi.

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"Mahatma Gandhi once said that in poor places, people see god in a piece of bread," said Sheikha Haya Rashed al Khalifa, president of the UN General Assembly while addressing the two-day UN ministerial conference of LDCs.

The theme of the meet is 'Making Globalisation Work for the LDCs'.

Though India was not among the participating countries, five of her neighbours, part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), were – Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and newly inducted member Afghanistan.

Besides the SAARC nations, the bulk of the countries were from Africa, some of whom have stepped up cooperation with India, like Uganda.

Turkey, standing between Asia and Europe and negotiating to join the European Union (EU), is hosting the conference as part of its "special responsibility" to bring the developed and developing worlds together.

Though globalisation has been shaping the world since the last century, it has still not benefited the majority of the SAARC nations and other LDCs, where the number of people living in poverty is expected to increase to almost 500 million in 2010, from 334 million in 2000.

On the opening day of the conference, Abdullah Gul, deputy prime minister of Turkey and minister of foreign affairs, said the international community must fulfil its commitments.

"This responsibility should not be reduced simply to a matter of providing financial resources," he said. "We must redress the imbalances of the international economic system.

"What is needed is a political will that responds to the concerns of the LDCs."