India on Friday loosened its purse strings to win the hearts of 48 Least Developed Nations and to strengthen the south-south cooperation.
New Delhi announced further assistance of 500 million in US $ credit for the grouping on the opening day of the two-day LDC ministerial conference. Inaugurating the meet, external affairs minister S M Krishna also announced another 5 million US $ special fund for follow up to the UN LDC conference to be held in Istanbul in May.
“Today, 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,” Krishna said.
“We stand ready to share our experience with our friends and brethren in the Least Developed Countries," he said. Krishna also announced additional contributions for LDCs, including another five scholarships every year under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme for each LDC and a special fund of $5 million over the next five years for the follow up to UN LDC Four to be held in Istanbul in May. India hosting the meet for the first time comes in the context of its increased efforts for becoming a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council.
“South-South cooperation, the theme of this conference, and one of the cornerstones of Indian foreign policy, is one such innovative solution that has the potential to deliver real and tangible benefits to the Least Developed Countries and effectively supplement and complement existing international efforts,” Krishna said. He, however, stressed that South-South cooperation is not a substitute for North-South cooperation.
Around 35 foreign ministers and 40 Permanent Representatives to the UN from the LDCs are participating in the conference. The ministers called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday morning.
The conference, which will act as a precursor to the fourth conference on LDCs in Istanbul May 9-13, is expected to come out with a Delhi Declaration outlining ambitious plans for spurring development of these countries.