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His Highness the Aga Khan and President Bashar al Assad Meet to Discuss Development Opportunities in Syria

Damascus, Syria, 19 June, 2006 - His Highness the Aga Khan met with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and senior government officials to discuss ongoing and future collaboration with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the areas of education, microfinance, tourism, culture and health.

His Highness the Aga Khan met with Syria`s President Bashar al-Assad.His Highness the Aga Khan met with Syria`s President Bashar al-Assad.His Highness the Aga Khan met with Syria`s President Bashar al-Assad. The Aga Khan was on a two-day visit to Syria. In a meeting with Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri, the Aga Khan reviewed work currently being undertaken by the AKDN in the areas of microcredit, rural and urban development relating to poverty alleviation, conservation and reuse of cultural assets, and support for the health sector. In discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Dardari, the Aga Khan explored a range of areas of collaboration within which the AKDN can contribute towards capacity-building in various sectors of economic development as well as in education, health and culture.

The Aga Khan also met with the Ministers of Tourism, Culture, Education and Health and with the Governor of the Central Bank to discuss programmes that the Network is currently developing and expanding in their respective areas of responsibility. The Aga Khan's discussions in Damascus focused on the AKDN's development experience in the country and the growing potential for public-private partnerships.

His Highness the Aga Khan meeting with Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri.His Highness the Aga Khan meeting with Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri.The Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badr-Eldeen Hassoun and the Aga Khan discussed ways to promote broader understanding of the importance of pluralism and tolerance and to increase opportunities to provide higher quality education in and about the Muslim World.

The AKDN is active in six provinces across the country: Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Lattakia, Tartous and Sweida with activities ranging from the country's largest microfinance programme to water management and rural development, community health, support for schools and hospitals, conservation, restoration, urban re-development and economic revitalisation projects around the citadels of Aleppo, Masyaf and Salah Al Din, and the improvement of nursing education and professional development of teachers nationally. These activities were launched following the signature of a Framework for Development Cooperation Agreement between the AKDN and the Government of Syria in November 2001 that was ratified by the Syrian Parliament in 2002.

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