TOKYO Dec 9 (AFP): Japan said it will put up 10 billion dollars over three years to promote trade with poor countries, calling it a commitment to economic development ahead of global free-trade talks.
Japan promised it would buy more from developing countries and ease duties on their products, even though it is expected to rile some poor countries at next week's talks in Hong Kong with its protectionism in agriculture.
"Japan would like to cooperate with developing countries for the success of the Hong Kong meeting," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a meeting with ambassadors of 39 least-developed countries or LDCs.
"We would like to promote the development of developing countries through free trade," he said Friday.
He announced a "development initiative" of 10 billion dollars over the next three years to help poor nations boost the trade sector by building capacities in areas such as production and transportation.
Indian govt rejects BJP demand on Volcker Report
NEW DELHI (Agencies): The government of India Friday rejected the opposition BJP demand for constituting a joint parliamentary committee to probe the allegations in the UN Paul Volcker Report on kickbacks in the Iraqi oil for food deals.
Leader of the House, in the lower chamber, Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, responding to the demand of Deputy Leader of the Opposition Vijay Kumar Malhotra, said: "I don't see that any purpose will be served by a joint parliamentary committee at this stage."
Mukherjee said that the scope of the Justice RS Pathak Inquiry Authority, which already started its work, was very wide.
Rejecting the BJP demand, Mukherjee said that the opposition had at first demanded probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's premier investigation agency, later demanded an FIR be lodged against those allegedly involved and now they were suddenly asking for a joint parliamentary committee to probe the matter.
Pakistan cotton prices steady
KARACHI (Reuters): Pakistan cotton prices rose slightly over the last week as mills bought and the market was expected to hold steady in the days ahead, dealers said Thursday.
"There has been some demand recently for quality cotton, which supported the local market," said Naseem Usman, a dealer in the southern city of Karachi.
Dealers said prices had fallen in recent weeks due to the absence of buyers. Pakistan is expected to produce a record 15 million bales of cotton in 2005-06, against the previous harvest of 14.8 million. Karachi Cotton Association Thursday fixed the official spot rate, or base price, for Grade 3 cotton at 2,529 rupee per maund.
Third India-Pakistan bus link to have trial run
NEW DELHI (AFP): Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan will launch trial runs of a new bus service to connect their Punjab provinces from Sunday, the Indian government announced.
The latest move to increase people-to people ties as part of a slow moving peace process will link the Indian Sikh holy city of Amritsar with Lahore in Pakistan.
"The trial run of the Amritsar-Lahore bus service will take place on 11 December 2005 by the Indian operator and 13 December 2005 by the Pakistani operator," the foreign ministry said in a statement late Thursday.
"This trial run had earlier been scheduled for October 2005 but was postponed due to the October 8 South Asian earthquake," it said.