The United Nations Development Program and the government of Sudan announced Sunday  that Sudan's peace agreement has spurred progress toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing hunger and poverty worldwide, but stopped short of insuring that the 2015 target date would be met.

Sudan's comprehensive peace agreement will help enable the nation to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, U.N. envoys and Sudan's president said on Sunday. The eight goals are aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, combating HIV-AIDS and improving gender equality and education standards worldwide, by the year 2015.

UNDP Resident Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Manuel Aranda da Silva, expressed optimism that Sudan is on track to complete the goals. "The economic dividends of peace could be great in such a rich county. Now, more than in any prior time in Sudan's history, the country can invest in development. The Sudanese society has ten more years left to win a national war against hunger, diseases, illiteracy, and other obstacles to a decent life that every Sudanese deserves. As hard as achieving these goals might seem, be assured, the Sudanese will not be long on this road," he said.

Despite U.N. optimism, a World Health Organization report released late last month has cast doubt upon the progress of the Millennium Development Goals. That study shows that no developing nation is currently on track to reach the goal of reduced child mortality adding that progress in reducing child malnutrition has been slow. The report also says that HIV-AIDS continues to cripple Subsaharan Africa.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, speaking through a translator, said today that Sudan is hard at work to meet the 2015 target date. "We have delegated the supervision of the Sudan's reports on the steps to take to implementation of the Millennium Goals to a higher ministerial commission, which includes all the ministries, to insure the state's concern and how it goes in harmony with these goals. Our interest and concern was on health and education and drinking water. We have to focus thoroughly for the realization of these millennium goals before the year 2015," he said.

Sudan signed a comprehensive peace agreement in January of 2005, ending 21 years of civil war between north and south Sudan and prompting investment in Sudan's burgeoning petrol industry.

The Millennium Development Goals were ratified in 2000 with the participation of 189 nations. A world summit will be held in New York City on September 14 and 15 to assess the progress of the goals, which include halving the worldwide poverty rate by 2015.