Foundation, UN to transform Buddha site

10:37, July 18, 2011      

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Buddha, or Prince Gautama Siddhartha, was born under this Sala tree around 623 BC in Lumbini, 171 km southwest of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, according to local legend. (Source:China Daily/File Photo)

As part of a plan to raise $3 billion to turn Buddha's birthplace in Nepal into a Mecca for Buddhists, a Hong Kong-based transnational foundation signed a memorandum last Friday with a United Nations agency that promotes industrialization in developing countries.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization will rely on its Beijing-based investment and technology promotion office for China to offer technical support for the project in Lumbini, Nepal.

The Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation signed a memorandum with Nepali authorities in June to turn Lumbini into what both sides call a "special development zone" that will benefit from preferential policies adopted by the local government.

No specific timetable was given for completion of the project.

Lumbini lies 171 kilometers southwest of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, and is the home of Buddha, who was born around 623 BC and given the name Prince Gautama Siddhartha.

As part of the project, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation has promised to bring roads, communication equipment, water and electricity to Lumbini, a poverty-stricken United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site that attracts about half a million visitors a year.

Mecca and the Vatican, in comparison, each draw more than 5 million tourists a year.

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