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Global leaders gather for Developing-8 summit in Pakistan
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ISLAMABAD, nov 21 (Agencies): Muslim leaders gather Thursday for Developing-8 (D-8) summit in Pakistan designed to increase trade and investment but likely to be overshadowed by the Gaza conflict as diplomats scramble to arrange a ceasefire.

Pakistan on Tuesday assumed the chairmanship of Developing-8 countries as the outgoing Nigeria completed its two-year term.

Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru handed over the chairmanship to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar who represented the country at the 15th session of Council of Ministers, held on the margins of eighth D-8 Summit here.

The Nigerian Foreign Minister opened the session and wished Pakistan the best for assuming the new chair. He hoped that Pakistan would play its role for the uplift of D-8 member states.

Foreign Minister Khar welcomed the delegates to Islamabad and said the event was significant in realizing the collective issues and finding their solutions for a sustainable future of the one billion 'family members'.

She announced that two landmark documents - D-8 Charter and The Global Vision, would be signed during the summit.

She said Pakistan had invited corporate and business leaders from D-8 states and stressed public-private partnership among them for strong trade linkages.

She called for joint efforts for strengthening the capacity of D-8 Secretariat by regularly holding business sessions to explore untapped resources of the member states.

Khar said democracy was important to attain sustainable development and mentioned that Pakistan through democracy had been able to secure the rights of its people.

On Afghanistan, she said Pakistan desires an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solution to problem in its neighboring country.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, key players in the Middle East, are scheduled to be among those attending the D8 summit.

The D8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with an estimated total population of one billion people.

Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is also due to attend.

Bangladesh and Malaysia will be represented at adviser- and ministerial-level respectively.

The summit will mark the first visit by an Egyptian president to Pakistan in four decades and by the first by a Nigerian leader in 28 years.

Its ambitious goal is to increase trade between member countries from $130 billion to $507 billion by 2018.

D8 leaders are set "to discuss ways to cushion the effects of the global economic recession and climate change and tackle ways to boost trade among themselves", the Pakistani government said in a statement.

Security situation

Islamabad rarely hosts major international gatherings given the Taliban and al Qaeda-linked violence that has plagued the country since the 9/11 attacks.

Security will be stepped up significantly, not least as the summit coincides with the month of Muharram, a magnet for sectarian attacks in Pakistan.

A public holiday has been declared on Nov 22 in the capital city of Islamabad in order to make security arrangements more effective.

Thousands of extra police and paramilitaries will deploy and construction work has been suspended around the diplomatic enclave to provide "foolproof security", Islamabad police chief Bani Amin told AFP.

Pakistan wants the summit to boost trade and investment, strengthen its international standing and help "remove misconceptions (about Pakistan) created in a section of international media", the statement said.
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News Updated at : Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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