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Eliminating poverty key issue at summit as China seeks to bolster Latin American cooperation

G-77 calls for new economic order

AFP-JIJI

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday opened a Group of 77 plus China summit in Bolivia, with developing countries calling for a more fair new world economic order.

Ban spoke to a vast audience that included some 30 heads of government and representatives of more than 100 nations, about two-thirds of the world’s countries.

The destiny of billions of poor people and the state of the planet depends on their work, Ban told the group.

Dignitaries at the event include the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and the host nation, Bolivia.

China, which is not a G-77 member, is participating in the summit, partly in a nod to its expanding trade ties in Latin America, although President Xi Jinping will not attend.

With massive purchases of commodities and exports of its manufactured goods to the region, China in recent years has emerged as a main trade partner of many Latin American countries.

Beijing now seeks a new model of cooperation that would marshal large investments for infrastructure projects needed to sustain growth in Latin America.

Leaders at the summit were also pressing a “fight for fair and sustainable economic growth, and for a new world economic order,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Ecuador President Rafael Correa slammed the current global economic system as morally flawed. “Only when we are united across Latin America and united around the world, will we be able to make our voice heard and change an international order that is not just unfair — it is immoral,” Correa said.

Cuban President Raul Castro, meanwhile, warned that Havana’s closest ally, Venezuela, needed support amid fallout from deadly anti-government protests. “Venezuela today needs our staunchest support,” Castro, 83, said in a rare international speech.

The summit was to close Sunday with a document that Bolivia Vice President Alvaro Garcia described as “the first draft of the post Millennium Development Goals,” a set of U.N. goals that are approaching their 2015 expiration date.

Hammered out in previous meetings, the G-77 document sets forth ambitious new commitments to reduce poverty and inequality, foster sustainable development, protect sovereignty over natural resources and promote fair trade and technology transfers.

The world is still well short of fulfilling the original eight Millennium goals, which include a call to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty.

Beijing is represented by Chen Zhu, a vice chairman of China’s National People’s Congress. Chen met with Bolivian President Evo Morales ahead of the summit opening, and pledged an $80 million loan to modernize Bolivian airline BOA and purchase four new aircraft, Bolivia said.