An international aid group on Oct. 7 pledged about $250 million to help the economic development of Mongolia, a country struggling in its switch from a Communist-style economy to a free market.The pledge for fiscal 1998 was made at the 6th Mongolia Assistance Group Meeting, held in Tokyo. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director of the Southeast Asia and Mongolia Country Unit at the World Bank, said that the amount was $40 million more than the international body had expected and called the meeting a great success.Of the $250 million (approximately 30 billion) yen, Japan pledged about 7.3 billion yen, according to Foreign Ministry officials. About 4.3 billion yen of Japan’s pledge will be extended in yen loans for an energy project, while about 1.2 billion yen will take the form of a grant-in-aid for infrastructure projects.In opening the meeting, Foreign State Secretary Masahiko Komura said that assisting Mongolia in its market reform efforts “is quite crucial for the peace and prosperity of the international community.” The meeting, the sixth since 1991, was attended by delegates from 21 countries and six international organizations.

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