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UNESCO chief Koichiro Matsuura is convening an unprecedented meeting of government leaders from 30 major industrialized and developing countries in autumn to discuss the promotion of primary education in the fight against poverty, according to Japanese government sources.

The goal of the meeting is to improve cooperation between aid donors and recipients in the provision of primary education, which is seen as a key to decreasing world poverty.

Matsuura, a former ambassador to France, took the helm of the Paris-based United Nations body in 1999. The meeting will be held for two days, starting Oct. 29, during UNESCO’s annual general assembly session in Paris, the sources said. UNESCO is the abbreviation for the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Japan, the world’s largest single aid donor, has been invited to the meeting, but it has not yet been decided who will participate, the sources said.

The sources said that delegates will discuss cooperation between industrialized and developing countries to achieve the international goal of “education for all.”

The Development Assistance Committee, a Paris-based group of major aid donors, adopted a new aid strategy in 1996 to increase the rate of children in developing countries receiving primary education to 100 percent by 2015.

The DAC aid strategy, which was later recognized as the common strategy for the international community as a whole, also contains other targets, including cutting by half the number of people who live in poverty and a reduction of the infant mortality rate to one-third of the current rate.

In some developing countries, access to education is still limited, particularly for females and the socially vulnerable.

In April last year, senior government officials from some 100 countries met in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss ways to achieve the “education for all” goal and adopted an action program called the Dakar Framework for Action to promote primary education in developing countries. At their annual summit in Okinawa three months later, the Group of Eight major countries expressed support for the action program in a joint communique. G8 groups the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

In New York next month, the U.N. will also sponsor a “children summit” to discuss issues facing children around the globe, with world government leaders attending. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is also considering attending the U.N. summit.

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