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NEW YORK (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara made his global diplomatic debut Tuesday in New York, calling on Asian countries to reduce economic and social disparities in line with the eight-point U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

In an informal MDG meeting attended by ministers from other Asian countries, Maehara, who assumed his post Friday, stressed the importance of focusing on both overall economic growth and the welfare of individuals.

He also noted that although many Asian nations have achieved economic growth, wide gaps remain between the rich and the poor in each.

The MDGs, set up in 2000 for achievement in 2015, include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, halting the spread of HIV, promoting gender equality, reducing the mortality rate of children and providing universal education.

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