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Madagascar Seeks Economic Aid at Paris Meeting

Officials of the government of Madagascar are meeting in Paris with donor countries and organizations. Madagascar is seeking financial aid following a seven-month political crisis that badly damaged the island nation's economy.

They are known as the Friends of Madagascar. The group is led by France and the other seven countries in the Group of Eight industrial nations. Other officials are from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Development Program.

Madagascar is counting on them to provide millions of dollars worth of aid now that its political crisis is over.

Madagascar's prime minister, Jacques Sylla, has been in France for several days and won a pledge of support from the French government. The IMF, the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank are expected to resume programs that were suspended during Madagascar's political crisis.

The crisis ended when the country's new president, Marc Ravalomanana, finally won control of all the nation from the former leader who had refused to step down after elections last December.

The political dispute left Madagascar suspended from the African Union. But western countries have been more sympathetic. In seeking their aid, the new Madagascar government pledged to fight corruption and rebuild the economy, which is one of the world's poorest.