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Muslim Summit Calls for Promotion of Mutual Trade


An economic summit of eight developing countries with large Muslim populations ended Thursday in Tehran with a declaration to promote mutual trade.

Heads of state from the eight countries concluded their two-day meeting in Iran by calling for increased economic cooperation among themselves.

The group is made up of Iran, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan. It was established in 1997.

Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharazzi, opened the summit earlier this week by calling for the creation of a common market among member countries.

The proposal has been repeated often over the past several years, but has not produced marked results.

A professor of political science at Cairo University, Mohamed El Sayed Selim, says the idea hasn't taken effect, in part because many of the nations compete against one another on the world agricultural markets.

"The declaration of a free trade area, I take as a symbolic declaration which is a reflection of intentions. It will not happen in the near future," he said.

The group is made up of predominantly Muslim countries; their combined populations total about 800 million people, or nearly 13 percent of the world's population. The countries' combined imports and exports, according to estimates, make up about seven percent of international trade.

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