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Annan pledges international support to landlocked developing countries

Annan pledges international support to landlocked developing countries

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today pledged support to the representatives of 31 landlocked developing countries in their efforts to overcome marginalization from the international trading system, which, Mr. Annan said, has hampered their development efforts.

"The UN family remains strongly committed to helping landlocked countries surmount these hurdles," he said in a statement delivered to the trade ministers' meeting in Asuncion, Paraguay, by Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

The Office of the High Representative, he said, continued its efforts to ensure coordination and monitoring of internationally-agreed measures to support landlocked countries, particularly in the key area of trade.

"If the Doha Round of trade negotiations is to deliver its development promises, there must be significant steps to reduce the trade barriers that continue to affect developing countries, especially landlocked developing countries," he said, adding that these countries need special support on trade facilitation given their dependence on transit facilities in other countries.

"This meeting in Asuncion can help you strengthen your collective voice in drawing international attention to the special needs of your countries."

That collective message was particularly important for the coming Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) taking place in Hong Kong, and for progress in the Programme of Action adopted at the UN conference on landlocked countries two years ago, Mr. Annan said.

At the same time, he said that the representatives attending the meeting could contribute their perspective to the upcoming 2005 World Summit as well as to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ambitious set of targets on a range of development issues agreed upon at the Millennium Summit in 2000 at UN headquarters in New York.

The meeting of landlocked developing countries will conclude tomorrow.