Japan hosts East Asian talks on Palestinian aid

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad Thursday urged East Asian donors to share their wealth and knowledge for nation-building efforts in his troubled region, during a conference in Tokyo.

"We find your experience in East Asia highly inspiring," he said, citing the way countries in the region have moved away from reliance on overseas' aid and risen to become economic powers.

The Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEPAD), is being jointly hosted by Japan and the Palestinian Authority.

It is the first time East Asian nations have gathered in support of Palestinians, in a bid to improve the efficiency of development aid programmes for the troubled region.

The meeting drew ministers and senior officials from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, the United Nations, the World Bank, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Islamic Development Bank, and the League of Arab States.

China was not invited, a Japanese diplomat said.

Japan, the third largest donor for Palestinians after the US and the EU, wanted to bring together fellow Asian nations and major global organisations to enhance East Asia's diplomatic and economic presence in the Middle East, the diplomat said.

Fayyad complained that Israeli occupation and hardline policies against Palestinian people have hampered the development of a sustainable political process as well as that of social and economic institutions.

He asked East Asian nations for help in a wide range of areas "to benefit from vast wealth of experiences and expertise that your countries have amassed over years of development".

"A number of you excelled and developed and moved from a state of reliance on aid, where we are today, to being in a state of being powerhouses in the economic sphere," he said.

The conference was not designed to solicit fresh aid pledges, Japanese diplomats have said.