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Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Quake-ravaged Haiti Ends with Road Map

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The Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti was concluded on Monday afternoon in Montreal, Canada, as the Group of Friends of Haiti, major donors and regional and multilateral partners passed a statement, stressing international cooperation and coordination in rebuilding the earthquake-ravaged country in the long term.

A chairman statement said that another technical conference will be held in March at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York to coordinate the international efforts.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who chaired the conference, stressed at a press conference, joined by his counterparts, that Haiti will play a leading role in the reconstruction with the supports by the international community.

Participants stressed that the current situation remains dire in Haiti, that the needs are immense and that the Haitian people continue to suffer.

"We resolved to remain swift and steadfast in our support. We will continue to urgently respond to pressing requirements in the most affected areas," the statement said.

Participants recognized the continued leadership and sovereignty of the government of Haiti, reiterating the commitment to undertake a coordinated, coherent and comprehensive approach to meet Haiti's immediate and longer-term needs.

"Under the leadership of the government of Haiti, and with a key coordination role by the United Nations, we will coordinate our efforts with national, international and regional organizations of the Americas, international financial institutions and a broad range of partners, to the benefit of the Haitian people," the participants pledged.

The participants held that an initial 10-year commitment is essential as is a concerted effort to rebuild Haiti's capacity. " Sustainable development, including environmental sustainability, climate resilience, disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, will be a cornerstone of our joint approach."

They highlighted the following longer-term strategic objectives: strengthened democratic governance, sustained social and economic development, and enduring stability and respect for the rule of law.

The participants reached a common understanding on a road map towards Haiti's reconstruction and development.

According to such a road map, the participants will restore the operational capacity of the government of Haiti; urgently conduct post-disaster and reconstruction-focused needs assessments; urgently convene an international conference to be held in March at the United Nations, steered by the government of Haiti and supported by key donors and partners including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the European Union and France; convene technical meetings to create an action plan to guide the reconstruction and development.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive appreciated the support by the international community, pledging a full and long term cooperation.

At the introductory session earlier, Bellerive said that his government has been contacting extensively with various aspects of the society and is determined to rebuild a new Haiti with generous international supports.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also delivered opening remarks, calling on the international community to be prepared for a sustained, significant effort in Haiti, working closely with the leadership of the government of Haiti.

Also attending the meeting are foreign ministers and delegates of the Group of Friends of Haiti, the neighboring Dominican Republic, and major donors and key regional and multilateral partners engaged in Haiti: the European Union, Spain and Japan.

A number of international organizations and key international financial institutions, including the Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Caribbean Development Bank, also are present.

In addition, non-governmental organizations, Montreal's Haitian Diaspora are also represented at the conference.

Founded in the early 1990s, the Group of Friends of Haiti is an informal association of like-minded nations that meets on the margins of the UN Security Council. Member states are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Uruguay.

On January 12, a strong earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck areas close to Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, causing widespread loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure. Significant aftershocks followed, the strongest with a magnitude of 5.9 on January 20.

(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2010)