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Turkey

Istanbul summit to target poverty in developing countries

Reuters/Murad Sezer

A five-day summit aimed at helping to lift nations out of poverty has gathered 48 of the world's Least Developed Countries, LDCs, in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The meeting will discuss a new Istanbul Programme of Action to replace the former Brussels plan which expired in 2010. 

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Turkish President Abdullah Gul will chair the talks with delegates expected to include Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

LDCs are defined as countries with a per capita income of less than 745 dollars. They include 33 states from Africa, 14 from Asia plus Haiti.

A rise in food prices in recent months, which has sparked social turmoil in a number of poorer countries, is a key issue for the assembled the leaders.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the opening of the summit, said it was time to recognise the 48 countries as a reservoir of untouched potential and stressed there was a need to support agriculture in LDCs in which 70 per cent of the population is employed.

World Bank Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that supporting long-term agricultural production and developing food stocks for "humanitarian purposes" is crucial to fostering stability in poorer nations.

The UN-backed conference takes place every ten years. France hosted the first two in 1981 and 1990. The third was held in Belgium in 2001.

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