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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April, 2005, 20:15 GMT 21:15 UK
Leaders praise Asia-Africa deal
By Grant Ferrett
BBC News

Delegates at the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta, Indonesia
Leaders at the summit represent most of the world's population
The Asia-Africa summit has ended with what the organisers say is a historic deal to build economic and political ties between the two continents.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has described the agreement as a milestone.

About 80 leaders, representing two-thirds of the world's population, gathered at the meeting in Jakarta.

But it was always likely to provide a stage for speeches and gestures rather than matters of substance.

The fact that it also marked the 50th anniversary of the Asia-Africa summit which led to the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement added to the lofty air of the proceedings.

However, the organisers insisted it was not just a celebration or a talking shop.

Partnerships

One specific achievement is a timetable for a new set of meetings - foreign ministers from the two continents are now scheduled to meet every two years, and heads of state every four.

The next gathering is due to be held in South Africa.

The new Asian-African Strategic Partnership is committed to meeting internationally agreed targets for economic growth and poverty alleviation, as well as tackling issues such as terrorism and organised crime.

Japan, already one of the biggest donors in Africa, announced during the summit that it would double aid to the continent over the next three years.

But trade has been the most important topic of discussion - the two blocs aim to provide an increasingly united front in world trade negotiations.

And the rapid economic expansion of China, with its demands for imports of raw materials, has provided a welcome extra source of investment in African countries, from Sudan in the east to Sierra Leone in the west.

But the economic transformation of much of Asia also serves to underline just how far behind the rest of the world Africa has fallen.



SEE ALSO:
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