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BANGKOK, Thailand (April 17, 2001 - UNIS/PINA Nius Online)---Threats to human and Asia-Pacific security from HIV/AIDS and urbanization of poverty are to get high priority at ESCAP 57th Commission Session, opening this week.

In the next two or three decades a majority of the Asia-Pacific population is expected to live in urban areas, posing enormous challenges to poverty alleviation.

"In fact if the disparities are not reduced they can pose a threat to the stability of the nation," says Mr. Kim Hak-Su, ESCAP's Executive Secretary, on the eve of the 57th Commission Session.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) 57th annual Commission Session will be held in Bangkok April 19 to 25.

This year's theme topic is "Balanced Development of Urban and Rural Areas and Regions Within the Countries of Asia and the Pacific."

Access to infrastructure and services, opportunities for socio-economic mobility and control over natural resources and local development will be other topics slated for action.

Delegates are expected to discuss implications of recent economic and social developments in the region and recommend policy responses. Environment and natural resources development; transport, communications, tourism and infrastructure development; statistics and least developed, landlocked and island developing countries are also included on the agenda.

Ministers and senior officials from 61 member and associate member countries and territories of ESCAP are expected to participate.

In an unprecedented intervention, two former heads of state from Africa and Thailand, UN Officials and AIDS sufferers will make a plea for action to avert a major health threat to the region.

The participants include Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand; Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia; Kathleen Cravero, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; and Mr. Kim Hak-Su.

They will make their interventions under the agenda item: Regional Preparations for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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