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Pakistan says committed to farmland deals

UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in Dubai for the Pakistan Investment & Public-Private Partnership Conference in Dubai.

Reuters | 27 January 2010

DUBAI, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Pakistan will press ahead with plans to lease or sell farmland to foreign investors despite United Nations concern over such deals, arguing the land would otherwise lie fallow, Pakistan's foreign minister said.

Pakistan offered last year to sell or lease 1 million acres (404,700 hectares) of farmland to foreign investors looking to secure food supplies for their countries, which sparked a popular outcry against foreign investors taking over Pakistani land.

The UN has also expressed concern that farmers' rights in developing countries might be compromised if rich countries buy their land.

"Many people misunderstood these deals, and we are now trying to explain to them that the land we want to sell is not land that belongs to anyone or even has any existing agriculture activity," Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday during a visit to Dubai.

"The land we want to offer investors is not used by anyone due to lack of investment, and so we are committed to going ahead with the deals." (Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Amanda Cooper)

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