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Expo organizers work to ensure US interests will build pavilion

LOCAL officials need to step up efforts to achieve a US presence at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo as the deadline for signing an exhibition contract is a little more than a month away, according to Hong Hao, director of the event's coordination bureau.

"The US government has authorized an institution to raise funds for attendance at the Expo," Hong said on Tuesday in Beijing, without divulging details on the plans. "We'll make joint efforts with the US government to enable the country to come."

Unlike in most other countries, the US government is barred by a 1991 law to provide direct funding for an Expo pavilion, necessitating private financing. There was no exhibit by the United States at the 2000 Expo in Hanover, Germany, or at the one in Zaragoza, Spain, last year. In 2005, the US pavilion at the Expo in Aichi, Japan, was built with help from corporate donations.

The US government orally pledged its participation in the Shanghai Expo in October 2006. But no written agreement to confirm its attendance has been executed.

"Shanghai expects to see the United States at the Expo," Hong said.

Participants must sign an exhibit contract with the Expo organizing committee by April 15.

The US has played an important role in the history of urban development, officials noted. The country is an excellent example of the theme of the 2010 World Expo, "Better City, Better Life," the Expo coordination bureau said last month.

Commenting on the possible effects of the world financial turmoil, Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the Expo's executive committee, said on Tuesday that none of the Expo participants have decided to end their involvement as a result of the downturn.

He said 185 countries and 46 international organizations have confirmed their attendance at the event so far.

The Expo is on track to be the largest since the first World's Fair, known as the Great Exhibition, the predecessor event of the Expo, was held in London in 1851.

The Shanghai Expo, scheduled from May 1 to October 31 next year, is expected to attract 70 million visitors. The organizers will also establish an online Expo that will allow access to the event for people around the world.


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