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Algeria chairs G-77, vows group "will be heard" in 2012

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 12 (KUNA) -- The voices of more than 80 percent of the world's population - represented at the UN by the Group of 77 (G-77) developing countries and China - would be heard loudly in 2012, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said on Wednesday after his country took over the group's chairmanship from Argentina.
The relay of presidency came in a formal ceremony attended by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Nassir Al-Nasser of Qatar.
Medelci told a press conference that among the priority challenges the group will address during the year is the global economic and financial crisis, insisting that a solution must therefore be expressed "through a process of solidarity", and that the group was "uniquely placed" to contribute to such a solution.
He stressed the need for a new order in the world's financial, trade, and development sectors, as well as for a new way of regulation to better prevent such crises in the future. He added that the group hoped to create mechanisms that would lead away from inequality and towards "true solidarity".
"It is important to better bring to light what was at the start of the crisis," he said, describing one way in which the group which tackles global economic issues could contribute to improving the situation.
Among the other challenges for 2012 and at the top of the group's agenda, he mentioned food security, sustainable development, and access to energy.
He expressed hope that the global belt-tightening would not further fracture the relationship between developed and developing countries. The rich would have to help the poor, he said, noting that countries of the North had not fully honored their pledges to provide development assistance to the countries of the South.
During the handover ceremony, both Ban and Al-Nasser urged the group to ensure that concrete and actionable measures are adopted at the forthcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.
The international community will gather in the Brazilian city to chart a course towards a more sustainable and equitable world, and will focus on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and an institutional framework for sustainable development.
The role of the G-77 is an "important part of the global effort to mobilize political will to achieve sustainable development," Ban said.
On the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to cut poverty by half, among other goals, Ban urged the group to strive to ensure that the targets are attained by the 2015 deadline.
"We must also begin thinking about the next steps beyond 2015. I invite the G-77 and China to be active in the dialogue regarding the post-2015 international development agenda. In the coming year and beyond, we have a historic opportunity to reshape the way we think about development," Ban said.
Al-Nasser also stressed the need for coordinated action by G-77 and China to ensure successful outcome of Rio+20.
"I am convinced that under the strong leadership of Algeria, Rio+20 negotiations will lead to a successful outcome and will be an opportunity to give effect to a new vision," Al-Nasser said in a speech delivered on his behalf by his chef de cabinet Mutlaq Al-Qahtani.
Asked at the press conference if he felt a true civil war was taking place in Syria, Medelci said he did not believe so, calling on the opposition to adopt a peaceful approach, and warning that if it continued to arm itself, there would be a much greater risk of civil war.
On whether the "Arab Spring" would affect Algeria, he said his country was different from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria in several important ways, mainly because it has multiple political parties and a largely private print media where the government is often criticized.
The G-77, established in 1964 by 77 states, now includes 132 countries, about two thirds of the UN membership, and represents over 80 percent of the world's population.(end) sj.wsa KUNA 120914 Jan 12NNNN