Food crisis focus of Muslim leaders at D8 summit in Malaysia

Muslim leaders from the Group of Eight developing Islamic countries, or D8, on Tuesday urged governments to find a solution to the worsening global food crisis, warning that a delay in actions would be especially disastrous for its member countries, dpa reported.

Governments must now work outside their individual efforts and look towards international and regional cooperation to combat the worsening global oil and food crisis, said Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

"We are meeting at a time when the world economy is facing grave threats to its wellbeing as a result of a combination of unprecedented circumstances," Abdullah said at the opening of the one-day summit in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.

Leaders from the grouping - which also comprises Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria and Turkey - were due later to sign a 10-year trade roadmap aimed at boosting economic cooperation and trade.

However, Abdullah said member nations must also look at ways they can work together to overcome the food shortage, adding that as developing nations, their citizens would suffer most.

"We need to brace ourselves, identify the right process and take correct steps to lessen the sufferings of our citizens, particularly those in the lower income categories," he said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said despite the grim outlook, he expressed optimism that member nations had the potential to cushion themselves from the impact of the global crisis.

Yudhoyono urged member countries to be vigorous in utilising their assets such as a combined population of 900 million and abundant natural resources.

"With these resources, we should be able to contribute substantially to the global economy and to the eventual conquest of poverty," he told delegates at the gathering.

Yudhoyono, who held the chairmanship of the grouping for the past two years, warned that further delay in addressing the food crisis and spiking oil prices would lead to sure "disaster."

"These are but a few of the challenges we must grapple with. I am confident that we can cope with them and eventually overcome them," he said.

The D8 grouping was first formed in 1997 as a means to enhance economic cooperation between member states. d

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