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Damascus, Syria, 3 November 2001 - His Excellency President Bashar Al Assad this morning held discussions with His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims at the People's Palace.
The Aga Khan and members of his delegation also met with Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro, Deputy Prime Minister for Social Services, Dr. Naji Otri, and the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr. Khaled Ra'ad.
In the afternoon, Minister of the Economy, Dr. Muhammad Immadi, the Minister of Health, Dr. Iyad al-Shatti and the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Hassan Risheh called on the Aga Khan to discuss initiatives in areas that agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network have been studying in Syria. Also participating in these meetings were the Aga Khan's daughter, Princess Zahra Aga Khan and her husband, Mr. Mark Boyden, both of whom have specific responsibilities relating to the Network's social and economic development activities. The Aga Khan also received the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nasser Kaddour.
The discussions focused on a number of areas in which the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) will be able to collaborate with the Government of Syria.
Amongst the initiatives that the Aga Khan announced in the course of these meetings were the establishment of 12 computer laboratories in secondary schools as a resource base for several municipalities: in the city and surrounding areas of Damascus, in Aleppo, in Hama and in Tartous. This project, which includes the installation of over a dozen computers in each laboratory, complete with all related equipment, as well as furniture, is intended to promote and advance the teaching of informatics across the country.
The Aga Khan also confirmed that the Aga Khan Development Network will improve facilities and systems at three hospitals as part of a multi-year initiative: the Aleppo Maternity Hospital and the Qadmous and Salamieh National Hospitals will each benefit from specialised equipment. The AKDN has also agreed to undertake a detailed study of the Healthy Village Programe as part of a longer term AKDN health development initiative for Syria.
The Aga Khan, who arrived in Damascus yesterday, continues his visit to Syria.
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