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FAO Press Release 02/29

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For more information please contact Michael Hage, FAO Information Officer, (cell phone: outside Teheran: 00-9821 9112495495, in Tehran 09112495495

FAO Regional Conferences 2002

Teheran, 13 March - Ministers of Agriculture and delegates from 24 Near Eastern countries endorsed the establishment of an "International Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty" as called for by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Johannes Rau at the annual World Food Day observance held last October at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters.

The endorsement was part of the decisions announced today at the conclusion of the 26th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East meeting in Tehran since 9 March. The Conference further called on FAO to formulate operational modalities for the International Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty for the timely consideration and adoption by member countries.

"Such an alliance could be the tangible expression of reinforced political will and an important step towards removing the despair and anger that are so favourable to extremism," said FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf.

Near East Agriculture leaders commended FAO for setting up a Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety. 20 percent of the Trust Fund's initial target sum of 500 million dollars have been secured.

The Conference called for additional contributions to the Trust Fund before the convening of the World Food Summit: five years later, scheduled to take place in Rome from 10-13 June, as a manifestation of the world's commitment to the war against hunger.

A total of 36 national and regional non-governmental and civil society organizations from 15 countries last week held a regional consultation in Tehran and presented their recommendations to the FAO Ministerial Conference.

Official and non-governmental leaders of agriculture joined voices in calling for the highest possible political participation at the World Food Summit: five years later. They considered the participation of Heads of State and Government at the Summit essential to reach the requisite level of commitment to effectively combat food insecurity in the region and the world.

Recognizing the need for additional investments in agriculture, the Conference requested FAO to help in promoting the region's interests at this month's International Conference on Financing for Development, Monterrey, Mexico

Participants lauded FAO for its initiatives in the region and for the support it provides to its member states in all aspects of agriculture and rural development, particularly in water management, animal health and production, locust control, increasing forest cover and the training of national experts for WTO and other multilateral negotiations in agricultural trade.

To mitigate the negative repercussions of recurring drought on agricultural production in this region, member states requested FAO's support in establishing and operating the recently launched regional network on drought management for the Near East and North Africa.

The Conference called on member states to adopt policies conducive to the strengthening of regional cooperation to increase intra-regional agricultural trade, to combat trans-boundary pest and animal health diseases and to implement joint research and biotechnology programs.

The FAO Near East Conference was the second regional conference after Africa en route to this year's World Food Summit: five years later. The 26th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean will be held in Havana, Cuba from 22-26 April.

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