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General Assembly President Joseph Deiss today acknowledged Madagascar's commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the African nation announced its decision to not take the podium at a high-level gathering on the eight anti-poverty targets.

The three-day meeting, which wraps up today, heard from scores of world leaders and aims to identify how to accelerate progress to meet the MDGs, with just five years left until their 2015 deadline.

Mr. Deiss said in a statement that Madagascar, on a “voluntary and sovereign basis,” decided not to speak at the MDG debate.

He expressed his “appreciation to all African Member States, including Madagascar, for their support to the objective of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the wider objective of reducing poverty, including on the African continent.”

During last year's high-level segment of the Assembly's 64th session, the 192-member body barred a delegation from Madagascar, where violent political unrest led to the ousting of the president, from addressing the event.

President Marc Ravalomanana resigned in early March 2009 amid a dispute with Andry Rajoelina, mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, who now leads the country.