India announces additional aid to LDCs

New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) India today announced additionalassistance to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which includedestablishment of a special fund of USD five million and a USD500 million credit line for developmental projects,strengthening its commitment to aid these nations.

Terming as "clearly unacceptable" the pace of progress inLDCs in changing their country status, External AffairsMinister S M Krishna said, "The number of Least DevelopedCountries has almost doubled from 25 in 1970 to 48 in 2011.

Only three countries have so far graduated out of their LDCstatus.

"It is time that we take up the cause of the LDCs on awar-footing and work together. Without the progress of thesecountries there can be no equitable global growth andprosperity," he said while inaugurating a ministerialconference of LDCs.

Given the enormity of the challenges facing the LDCs andthe "less than satisfactory results of international efforts"so far, it is imperative that "we explore new and innovativeways to supplement the mainstream effort to assist thesecountries and look for out-of-the-box solutions to assist ourleast developed country partners," he said.

Apart from announcement of financial aid including thesetting up of a special fund of USD five million over the nextfive years for the follow-up to UN LDC Four conference to beheld in Istanbul in May, India also announced another fivescholarships every year under the Indian Technical andEconomic Cooperation Programme (ITECP) for each LDC.

Earlier, a delegation of leaders from LDCs called onPrime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Today, as the world''s largest democracy, which supportsfundamental human rights and human freedoms, we are proud ofthe progress we have been able to register to meet theeconomic aspirations of our people. We stand ready to shareour experience with our friends and brethren in the LeastDeveloped Countries," Krishna said.

Foreign ministers of 35 of the 48 LDCs and also about 45permanent representatives in New York of the LDCs areparticipating in the two-day conference here.

Apart from LDCs, Finland, Australia, Slovenia, China,Hungary, Croatia, Georgia, European Union, the US, Germany andHungary will also attend the meeting as observers. MORE PTIPYK

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