India promises 500 million dollars aid to Least Developed Countries

New Delhi, Feb 18 (ANI): India will extend 500 million dollars aid for a host of projects in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and offered to share its developmental experience with them.

Inaugurating a two-day ministerial conference of LDCs here today, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said: "As the world's largest democracy, which supports fundamental human rights and human freedoms, we are proud of the progress we have been able to register to meet the economic aspirations of our people."

"We stand ready to share our experience with our friends and brethren in the Least Developed Countries," he added.

He further said that the number of Least Developed Countries has almost doubled from 25 in 1970 to 48 in 2011. Only three countries have so far graduated out of their Least Developed Country status.

"This pace of progress is clearly unacceptable. It is time that we take up the cause of the Least Developed Countries on a war footing and work together. Without the progress of the Least Developed Countries there can be no equitable global growth and prosperity," he added.

Given the enormity of the challenges facing the Least Developed Countries and the less than satisfactory results of international efforts so far, Krishna said: "It is imperative that we explore new and innovative ways to supplement the mainstream effort to assist Least Developed Countries and look for out-of-the-box solutions to assist our least developed country partners.

"It is our intention to continue to augment our development cooperation initiatives with developing countries in general and Least Developed Countries in particular. In our initiatives with Least Developed Countries, we are principally guided by the priorities set out by Least Developed Countries themselves," he added.

He further said India already has a substantive development cooperation programme with Least Developed Countries.

"We have extended a comprehensive scheme for Duty Free Quota Free treatment to imports from the Least Developed Countries. The core thrust of our development partnership with Least Developed Countries has been capacity building,' he said.

The cumulative value of our Lines of Credit to Least Developed Countries since 2003 is 4.3 billion dollars, a significant part of which has already been utilized. But more significantly, the total investment by Indian public and private companies in the Least Developed Countries now stands at about 35 billion dollars," he added.

Krishna also announced another five scholarships every year under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITECP) for each LDC. (ANI)

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