Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kyrgyz Cultural Festival opens in Beijing

A reception marking the opening of the Kyrgyz Cultural Festival was held here Wednesday evening.

Present at the reception were more than 100 guests from government departments, cultural, business and media circles of the two countries.

Addressing the reception, Kyrgyz Minister of Culture and Information Sultan Raev said the opening of the Kyrgyz Cultural Festival reflected the friendship of the two states and the sound developing momentum of bilateral relations.

Chinese Vice Minister of Culture Zhao Shaohua expressed the hope that the two sides could make common efforts for promoting bilateral cultural exchanges.

As the opening show of the festival, Kyrgyz art groups gave a performance at Tianqiao Theatre in Beijing on Tuesday evening.

Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2007 signed a joint declaration with his Kyrgyz counterpart Kurmanbek Bakiyev, in which the two states vowed to hold cultural festivals in respective countries.

Chinese Cultural Festival was held last year in Kyrgyzstan.

Source: Xinhua

Kremlin: Venezuelan president to visit Russia

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will pay a two-day visit to Moscow since Thursday, the Itar-Tass news agency said, citing the Kremlin.

"The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez will stay on a brief working visit in Russia on Sept. 25-26this year at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Chavez is expected to meet with Russian leaders and agreements for cooperation in energy, science and technology will be signed during the visit.

Chavez is now in China for a state visit and he will visit Paris and Lisbon following his stay in Moscow.


Backgrounder: key facts about General Debate of UN General Assembly

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday delivered a speech at the annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly. It was the first time a Chinese premier took the floor at the UN general debate.

In the speech, Wen expounded on China's foreign policies and stance over major international issues.

Following are some key facts about the General Debate of UN General Assembly.

The General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 192 UN members, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law.

The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

The annual General Debate of the General Assembly, which traditionally features statements by dozens of heads of state or government as well as ministers, lasts nine days.

The debate provides an opportunity for UN members to discuss international issues on an equal footing. Representatives from member states expound on stands and views on issues of common concern.

The theme of the general debate of this year is "The impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world, as well as the need to democratize the United Nations."

During the 63rd session, the 192-member body will examine the immediate and root causes of the world food crisis, and its impact on world hunger and poverty and discuss UN reforms.

Three high-level sessions on development issues are expected to be held this year, including a high-level UN meeting for the Millennium Development Goals , which will be held on Thursday.

Representatives from some 150 countries, including more than 90heads of state or government, are expected to attend the MDGs summit, which will be convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the aim to generate further actions to realize the MDGs by 2015.


Mekong countries approaching to basin-wide hydropower decision

The Mekong River Commission on Thursday launched the Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on its Hydropower Program in Vientiane, the Lao capital, as the participants at the meeting proposed the planning process involved in the development of hydropower dams in the Mekong region should include expertise and views from a wide range of interested parties.

The consultation, bringing together over 200 representatives from governmental agencies, private sector companies and financing agencies, NGOs and civil society groups, international organizations and the donor agencies that support the MRC as development partners, runs from September 25 to 27.

Chantavong Saignasith, MRC Joint Committee member for the Lao CDR, said during the opening ceremony that hydroelectricity has long been recognized as one of the cleanest, most sustainable and, in the long run, least expensive methods of generating power. Acknowledging there can be negative impacts associated with hydropower, he said it was therefore important that the Lower Mekong countries were able to study the benefits and costs associated with building dams before making decisions.

According to Chantavong, the MRC provides decision-makers in the four Lower Mekong countries, Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, with a sound knowledge platform, enabling them to assess the gains and impacts of each hydropower proposal in a basin-wide context. This includes scientific input from many different fields and sources across the Mekong region and beyond, from village-level fisheries research to international navigation experience. The MRC can source and provide such data, and also assesses plans for various power-generating scenarios through integrated modeling tools.

Presentations to the meeting were made by participants from all stakeholder sectors, including national electricity enterprises from the MRC member states, environmental advocacy groups, developers, and National Mekong Committees. Hydropower industry experts from China and outside Asia also attended the consultation, thus contributing to eventual outcomes in development.

The MRC Hydropower Program is being designed to assist this decision-making process, and to help set up mechanisms that can make sure the countries' concerns are addressed as approved projects are implemented.

Jeramy Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat, said the creation of a framework for regional and cross-sectoral cooperation on hydropower gives great impetus to sustainable development in the Lower Mekong Basin. The MRC believes, said Bird, that developing cooperation and dialogue between countries, at multiple levels of society, can help ensure the growth of the hydropower industry be managed in a way that conserves environmental resources and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.


Backgrounder: The Mekong River Commission

The Mekong River Commission on Thursday launched consultation meeting for the regional Mekong Hydropower Program platform here on Thursday, aiming to shape a way for the river's future hydropower development which is shared by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and China.

The MRC was formed on April 5, 1995 by an agreement between the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The four countries signed The Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin and agreed on joint management of their shared water resources and development of the economic potential of the river.

The MRC has been built on a foundation of nearly 50 years of knowledge and experience in the region starting from 1957 when it began life as the Mekong Committee which was founded by the United Nations .

In 1996, China and Myanmar became Dialogue Partners of the MRC and the countries now work together within a cooperation framework.

The MRC is an international, country-driven river basin organization that provides the institutional framework to promote regional cooperation in order to implement the 1995 Agreement. The MRC serves its member states by supporting decisions and promoting action on sustainable development and poverty alleviation as a contribution to the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The MRC supports the Mekong Program, a Regional Cooperation Program for the Sustainable Development of Water and Related Resources in the Mekong Basin owned by its member countries.

The four goals of the organization for 2006-2010 are to promote and support coordinated, sustainable, and pro-poor development; to enhance effective regional cooperation; to strengthen basin-wide environmental monitoring and impact assessment; to strengthen the Integrated Water Resources Management capacity and knowledge base of the MRC bodies, National Mekong Committees, Line Agencies, and other stakeholders.


Mekong countries launch hydropower consultation

Countries along the Mekong River launched a consultation meeting for the regional Mekong Hydropower Program platform here on Thursday, aiming to shape a way for the river's future hydropower development.

All the four member countries of the hosting Mekong River Commission , Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and MRC's dialogue partner China and other countries' observers, will discuss during the three-day meeting for achieving a future dialogue mode on important aspects of hydropower development that require an integrated basin perspective.

The MRC's Hydropower Program aims to co-operate and promote sustainable development, utilization, management and conservation of water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin in an integrated approach for the economic and social well-being of the people in the riparian countries.

The primary objectives of the Regional Consultation are to gather information on the scope and approach of the MRC's emerging Hydropower Program; to provide an opportunity to assess and disseminate major and related activities of the program; and to provide a forum for discussing some of the key issues facing hydropower development in the Basin.

The MRC approved its Hydropower Strategy in 2001 and drafted a Concept Note for its Hydropower Program in 2005. These documents were a comprehensive attempt to interpret emerging international good practice and lay out what it meant for the Mekong region, and identify strategic work areas and possible components of the program.

After the three-day consultation, representatives will pay a visit to the Theun Hinhoun Hydropower Scheme in Lao's Khammuan Province.


Official: China likely to realize all anti-poverty goals by 2015

China is likely to realize all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said Wednesday.

He made the remarks as he and Kemal Dervis, administrator of the UN Development Program , co-launched the 2008 edition of the Report on China's Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals at the UN Headquarters.

With the MDGs fully integrated into its development framework of building a well-off society in an all-round way, China has realized ahead of time the goals of halving poverty and achieving universal primary education, and is likely to realize all the MDGs by 2015, he said.

China will make every effort to contribute to the implementation of the MDGs worldwide, he said.

Dervis spoke highly of China's progress in implementing the MDGs, saying that China, through its efforts to eradicate poverty, has made significant contributions to the global endeavor to combat poverty and hunger.

The United Nations stands ready to enhance its cooperation with China so as to push for the timely realization of the MDGs, Dervis said.