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D8 nations focus on expanding horizons

Zardari says the group represent a huge untapped reservoir for the world

Gulf News

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called upon D8 countries to work for development solutions for their one billion people with a focus on encouraging free flow of goods‚ peoples and finances in their region.

Opening the summit in Islamabad, he said they represent a huge untapped reservoir that can serve as a catalyst for peace and prosperity around the world.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‚ Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono‚ Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan‚ Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‚ Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Haji Muhyiddin Mohammad Yassin‚ Egyptian Vice President Mahmoud Mekki and Bangladesh Prime Minister’s adviser Dr Syed Ali Gowher Rizvi attended the one-day conference.

Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi cancelled his visit to Islamabad and sent his vice-president to the meet, which focused on the theme “democratic partnership for peace and prosperity”.

Pakistan took over chairmanship of the D8 from Nigeria for the next two years and at the end of the conference the foreign ministers signed the D8 Charter in the presence of the leaders.

President Zardari said the summit reflects “our collective determination to use this platform for finding solutions”.

He emphasised the need for trade and development banks; encouraging private sector‚ helping contacts between chambers of commerce and investment houses of the member countries; simplification of visa and customs procedures and barter trade.

The Pakistani president said most D8 countries have already ratified the Preferential Trade Agreement and there is now need to make it operational.

Zardari also said Pakistan is making unprecedented efforts to normalise relations with India and supports Afghanistan’s own roadmap for peace and reconciliation.

Pinpointing international terrorism as one of the most serious threats facing Pakistan, Zardari vowed that “we will fight for the spirit of our great religion that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave to us.”

He said people of Palestine continue to suffer the Israeli aggression and strongly condemned the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in his remarks at the summit laid stress on enhancing volume of trade to the highest possible level and expressed satisfaction at the ratification of the Preferential Trade Agreement and Visa Facilitation accord by the member countries.

The Iranian president said D8 countries need to stand together to overcome the complex challenges and injustices of the current world system.

Ahmadinejad said the gulf between developed and developing countries is rising. He said during the colonial era resources were captured by the colonial masters who are doing the same under different garbs even today.

He said discrimination in the international arena by using UN Security Council and economic sanctions is a manifestation of hegemonic designs of big powers. He said these tactics are employed to hamper the growth of independent nations.

Iran called for building a new world order based on the principles of equality‚ justice and a level playing field.

Addressing the summit‚ the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said to achieve D8 targets “we have to maintain peace and political stability in the region”.

He said D8 member countries should explore more avenues in the fields of tourism‚ communication and sea transport.

He said food and energy cooperation is also crucial which could be ensured by active participation of government-private partnership

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said we have to be united to be on the road of development.

He said democracy and development are interlinked and pointed out that D8 countries are the emerging economies of the world.

Egyptian Vice-President Mahmoud Mekki expressed the hope that D8 would be a more vibrant and dynamic organizations under the auspices of Pakistani leadership. He said members had to achieve developmental targets through cooperation.

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Muhyiddin Bin Yassin said trade between the member states is increasing which is an encouraging sign but it needs to be significantly enhanced.