India announces $500 mn aid for Least Developed Countries

February 18th, 2011 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) Underlining its commitment to South-South cooperation, India Friday announced another $500 million aid for a host of projects in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and offered to share its developmental experience with them. “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,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said while inaugurating the two-day ministerial conference of LDCs.

“We stand ready to share our experience with our friends and brethren in the Least Developed Countries,” he said.

Krishna announced a raft of 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.

Krishna announced a $500 million credit line over the next five years to be used specifically for projects and programmes of LDCs.

“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.

India enjoys a multi-dimensional relationship with LDCs and has been in the forefront of assisting their development through generous lines of credit and other forms of assistance. Over the decades, the foreign direct investment from India to LDC countries has increased dramatically, and is estimated to be around $35 billion.

India has provided 4.3 billion lines of credit to LDCs over the years.

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