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Sweden rejects US poverty proposals

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22:32 CEST+02:00
Sweden, which is to chair a United Nations summit on sweeping reform of the world body in September, on Friday called a US proposal to scrap ambitious goals to reduce world poverty "not acceptable".

Less than three weeks before world leaders are due to meet at the UN to endorse a vast reform of the organisation, Washington has submitted proposals to drastically amend a so-called draft "outcome document" that will be presented at the gathering.

John Bolton, the US envoy to the UN recently appointed by President George W. Bush to push through Washington's UN reform agenda, has sent some of his counterparts a confidential 36-page document listing 750 amendments to the draft document.

The US text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls for striking any mention of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, in which UN members set goals over the next 15 years to reduce poverty, preventable diseases and other scourges of the world's poor.

"That is not acceptable," Swedish undersecretary of state Lars Danielsson, considered as the right-hand man of Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson who is chairing the summit, told Swedish news agency TT on Friday.

"We think that the document that is on the table is a very good starting point," he said.

However, Danielsson said it was expected that there would be haggling over the contents of the final document in the weeks before the meeting, and said he thought there was room for "negotiation" with Washington over the Millennium Goals.

"There are often a lot of people who want to delete everything that there is not agreement on," he said.

Instead of the Millennium Goals, Washington wants to highlight the significance of the 2002 Monterrey (Mexico) Consensus that focused on free-market reforms and required governments to improve accountability in exchange for aid and debt relief.

The summit, to be held at the UN headquarters in New York September 14-16, will bring together a record 173 heads of state or government.

AFP

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