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Mbeki Calls On Developing Countries To take Initiative To Fight Poverty - 2004-08-19

South African president Thabo Mbeki urged the leaders of developing countries to take the initiative in reducing poverty and underdevelopment.

Mr. Mbeki said that the U.N. Millennium Development goals to slash poverty in half by 2015, and improve health and education will not be met without the transfer of resources from the rich to the poor.

He says, "The resources exist within human society to meet those development goals; the question is, what action needs to be taken to make sure that those resources are actually released."

The South African leader was addressing a meeting In Durban of foreign ministers from countries belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement. Among the members are most African countries, some of which are the world's poorest.

Mr. Mbeki told the top diplomats they should not expect rich countries to set the agenda for the developing world.

He says, "I think it is a question that we should try to answer ourselves, because obviously to depend on those who are richer than ourselves to answer the question of how they should transfer resources in their hands into our hands, I think would be hoping for something that is going to be difficult to achieve."

Mr. Mbeki reminded delegates that, when the developing countries united in presenting their demands at the recent global trade talks - including the reduction of agricultural subsidies - the rich countries had to take note.

Mr. Mbeki said international organizations, such as the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund, must be restructured to better meet the needs of the developing world. He said poor countries must unite to consolidate their gains and set the agenda for their own development.