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18 January 2010Senior United Nations officials today called for greater efforts to help the world’s poorest countries meet their development targets, as a three-day meeting kicked off in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to examine a decade of assistance to this group of nations. Ministers and senior government officials from 15 States classed as least developed countries (LDCs) are meeting through Wednesday to assess and develop a regional position for Asia and the Pacific ahead of a global review next year in Turkey on progress made since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action to assist LDCs. Adopted in May 2001, the Programme provides a framework for action to help LDCs progress toward halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 and promote the sustainable development of these countries. Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), noted that the recent global food, fuel and financial crises took a heavy toll on LDCs, threatening to roll back their hard-won development gains.She emphasized greater connectivity among countries in Asia and the Pacific to create new markets, and endorsed more cooperation among countries of the South to sustain growth and development in the region’s LDCs. In addition, Ms. Heyzer stressed the need for financial assistance from donors, and underscored the need for monitoring to ensure that the pledges reached their intended targets.Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the triple crises showed just how fragile LDC economies remain. Next year’s review conference, he said, will provide an opportunity for LDCs, development partners and others “to forge a clear vision, based on universal values, moral and ethical imperatives, and the requirements of fairness and equity, to enable the 800 million people in LDCs get out of poverty and onto the path to sustainable development.”Among the issues this week’s meeting is addressing are concerns related to reducing poverty and hunger by promoting sustainable and inclusive development in the LDCs; promoting food security through sustainable agriculture; and enhancing the share of LDCs in global trade, aid and financial flows and promoting their productive capacity. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Yemen are participating in the meeting.