A group of diplomats representing landlocked developing nations meeting this week in the Kazakh capital is demanding global legislation to protect their interests, according to a communique sent to Efe.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Gyan Chandra Acharya said during the gathering in Almaty that while the level of poverty has been reduced in the landlocked developing countries, or LLDCs, "almost 40 percent of people live below the poverty line."

He pointed to the Almaty Program of Action as a tool that has enabled the LLDCs to improve "their macroeconomic situation and as a result become more attractive to foreign investors."

The Almaty Program of Action, adopted at a 2003 conference of LLDCs, contains the rules and recommendations relating to transportation policy and infrastructure development, as well as financial and technical aid.

Kazakhstan's foreign minister, Erlan Idrissov, called for "the adoption of a legally binding global and regional instrument, really protecting the interests of landlocked countries."

Idrissov emphasized that Kazakhstan's efforts to preside at the Energy Charter Conference in November is one more piece of evidence of Almaty's commitment to countries without ocean access, according to the communique.

The executive secretary of the Kazakh Ministry of Transport and Communication, Zamir Saginov, said that traffic between Asia and Europe is primarily maritime.

"The share of land transport is only 0.2 - 0.5 percent," he said.

Saginov emphasized the work involved in a reorientation of the transport route between China and the European Union such that Kazakhstan in 2020 attains a volume of 8 percent.

The meeting in Almaty lays the groundwork for the Nov. 3-5 Jubilee Review Conference in Vienna devoted to the implementation of the Almaty Program of Action. EFE