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Pakistan hosts Muslim leaders in rare summit

22 November, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Muslim leaders will meet on Thursday (today) as Pakistan hosts a rare summit designed to increase trade and investment but likely to be overshadowed by the Gaza conflict as diplomats scramble to arrange a ceasefire.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, key players in the Middle East, are scheduled to be among those attending the Developing Eight (D8) summit. The D8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with an estimated total population of one billion.

Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is also due to attend. Bangladesh and Malaysia will be represented at adviser- and ministerial-level respectively.

The summit will mark the first visit by an Egyptian president to Pakistan in four decades and by the first by a Nigerian leader for 28 years.

Its ambitious goal is to increase trade between member countries from $130 billion to $507 billion by 2018.

Pakistan wants the summit to boost trade and investment, strengthen its international standing and help "remove misconceptions (about Pakistan) created in a section of international media", a government statement said.

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