The lack of a fair trade system remains a major road block to African development, following the recent collapse of multilateral trade talks, and the world must respect the continent’s diversity and identity, leaders from Africa and its partners said Wednesday.

In a declaration adopted to wrap up the three-day Tokyo International Conference on African Development, they also pledged to support the African self-help initiative New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

Unlike the 1998 action plan adopted at the second TICAD summit, which outlined policies and goals through 2015, Wednesday’s declaration focused on philosophies and concepts of African development.

TICAD Chairman and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori told a news conference after the event’s close that Japan will hold the next TICAD meeting in 2008 and is committed to following up the results of the discussions at the latest summit.

“We hope to work toward hosting TICAD IV in five years,” he said. “We hope significant developments will be made by then.”

Before adjourning the conference, Mori presented a summary of top issues discussed, including the importance of peace consolidation, human security, and developments in infrastructure, agriculture and the private sector.

Participants noted in the TICAD 10th Anniversary Declaration their disappointment over the recent failed World Trade Organization talks in Cancun, Mexico, and called for equitable international trade. Many delegates criticized developed countries’ subsidies and trade barriers during the conference.

Speaking on behalf of all African delegations at the closing ceremony, Gabonese President Omar Bongo said, “The failure of Cancun further increases the concern of our people, who feel more and more marginalized.

“TICAD III must give a new impetus to our relationships of cooperation in order to create a community of mutually beneficial interests,” he said. “The time has come to ensure greater efficiency and to establish mechanisms for a followup of the commitments that we have taken at this conference.”

U.N. Development Program Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said, “(TICAD is) about moving Japan, as a part of that global coalition (and) as a donor, and it’s about moving Asia as a critical source of inspiration, experience and knowhow in support of Africa.”

The conference, which has been held once every five years since 1993, opened Monday with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi committing $1 billion in aid for Africa over the next five years.

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