Japan to host 1st int'l confab on African peace later this year (JAPAN)

Japan will host an international conference as early as this year to promote consolidation of peace in Africa, government officials said Saturday.


The meeting -- which will gather Cabinet members and high-ranking officials from African and Asian nations for the first time -- comes as part of the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

The framework, also known as TICAD, is jointly supported by the Japanese government, the United Nations, the Global Coalition for Africa and the World Bank, in a bid to promote Africa's development.

According to the officials, the date and venue will be decided soon by the steering committee of TICAD, with prospects high that the meeting will be held in a major African city or New York.

Participants are expected to hold extensive discussions in creating a conflict-free society in Africa mainly through refugee aid and weapons recovery and policies leading to sustainable development in post-conflict areas in Africa.

During the conference, the participants are expected to probe the strategy on the use of ODA and effective management measures for U.N. peacekeeping operations, the officials said.

The Japanese government earlier announced a doubling of the amount of its official development assistance to Africa in the coming three years.

According to the officials, some of the envisioned concrete steps to aid Africa in its transition to a democratic framework are mine countermeasures and recovery of landmines, disarmament of former soldiers and social reintegration, assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, and assistance for elections.

Recently, peace agreements have been reached in the strife-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Sudan.

Senior Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said Africa is becoming stable as a whole but there remains the risk of a reversal to conflict, which has prompted Japan to make use of the TICAD framework -- which is the core of Japan's African diplomacy -- for efforts to pursue the consolidation of peace.

In March, the government provided a total of about $60 million to 14 African nations for assistance in the consolidation of peace. Japan has already said it will provide $100 million in aid.

Von: 3 September 2005, Kyodo News

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