ROME, JUNE 10, 2002 ( In a message to the World Food Summit, John Paul II said the problem of hunger can be resolved with solidarity.

The Pope explained that if the international community has not reached its goal of reducing the number of the world´s hungry, this can be attributed "to the absence of a culture of solidarity, and to international relations often shaped by a pragmatism devoid of ethical and moral foundations."

In the message, read at the opening of the four-day meeting by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, the Pope laments that in recent years aid to poor countries has decreased.

On the eve of the summit being held in Rome, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that official assistance for development in agriculture dropped by more than 30% in the 1990s.

In his message to the summit participants, among whom are some 100 heads of state and government, the Pope said: "Today more than ever there is an urgent need in international relationships for solidarity to become the criterion underlying all forms of cooperation, with the acknowledgment that the resources which God the Creator entrusted to us are destined for all."

The Pope continued by "urging the various sectors of the international community, governments and intergovernmental institutions, to make a commitment to somehow guarantee the right to nutrition in cases where an individual state is unable to do so because of its own underdevelopment and poverty."

"Such a commitment can be seen as entirely necessary and legitimate, given the fact that poverty and hunger risk compromising even the ordered coexistence of peoples and nations, and constitute a real threat to peace and international security," the Holy Father explained.

According to FAO, an additional public investment of $24 billion annually must be made in poor countries to reduce the number of the world´s hungry from 800 million to 400 million by 2015.

The Holy Father ended by guaranteeing the "frontline" commitment of the Catholic Church. "Her intimate vocation is to be close to the world´s poor," he said.