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Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Ministers seek to trace terror cash
G7 ministers around a table in Washington
The G7 ministers: Aiming to help poorer countries
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G7 group of industrialised countries have vowed to track down terrorist finances.

After a meeting in Washington, the G7 leaders said they were committed to seize terrorist funds as well as taking action against individuals and states suspected of sponsoring terrorism.

And they called for better exchange of information and the supervision of offshore assets to ensure there was no hiding place for terrorist money.

Meeting for the first time since the 11 September terrorist attacks, the ministers also said they were confident the uncertainties created by the atrocities had been overcome.

We pledge to work together to deliver real results in combating the scourge of the financing of terrorism

G7 finance ministers

There was no agreement on any concerted action because some eurozone finance ministers do not believe a recession in their countries is imminent, in contrast to the US treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, who thinks his economy is currently shrinking.

But they said they would be proposing measures to increase economic growth and help protect financial markets in the coming months.

They also promised to help poor countries offset any losses resulting from the current economic slowdown.

Worldwide laws

The finance ministers plan to use an anti-money laundering agency - the Financial Action Task Force - to help track down the groups financing terrorist groups.

They also called on the International Monetary Fund to supervise offshore financial centres.

Earlier at the meeting, UK Chancellor Gordon Brown called for worldwide laws to close the net on terrorist funding.

He told his colleagues that any rules drawn up must also apply to offshore tax havens so there was no "weak link" in the chain to cut off the funds.

Trader on Japanese stock market
Markets worldwide have been very volatile

Mr Brown said all nations should ensure there was no safe hiding place for terrorists or their cash.

He told BBC Radio: "What the discussion at the G7 is all about is how we can agree a plan of action where each of the major countries takes similar actions in relation to the freezing of money and in the exchanging of information where there are suspicions."

He said that whatever was decided had to apply to offshore centres as well "because we can only be as strong as the weakest link in this chain".

The G7 group also stressed the need for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations to begin at the next ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation due to be held in Qatar in November.

O'Neill confident

The state of the stuttering global economy was also discussed, with finance ministers issuing upbeat statements after the meeting.

The US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said it was likely the US economy would contract in the third quarter.

"The events of September 11 basically shut down substantial parts of our economy for the better part of a week as we closed down our airways and as people stayed home in shock," he said.

But he said he was confident the interest rate cuts made by the Federal Reserve, together with the proposed stimulus measures would the US economy growing again.

A united front was also displayed by other ministers.

"The terrorists have been able to kill thousands of people and they wanted to kill, too, our economies but the (global) economy is resisting and we are united," said Laurent Fabius, French Finance Minister.

The G7 nations are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US. The G8 group also includes Russia.

See also:

01 Oct 01 | UK
UK freezes terror funds
28 Sep 01 | Business
Net closes on terror cash
24 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush calls halt to terror funding
19 Sep 01 | Business
Following the money trail
18 Sep 01 | Business
Bin Laden 'share gains' probe
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