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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 17:52 GMT
Trade key to wealth, banker says
Canadian police
Security is very tight for the meetings
David Schepp

World Bank president James Wolfensohn has told finance ministers gathered in Ottawa that international trade is a powerful force in reducing poverty but not all nations are benefiting from such advances.

"I have talked about this challenge for some years, arguing that the global community had to rise to the challenge not only for moral reasons but also for reasons of self-interest," Mr Wolfensohn told a gathering of officials from the world's leading industrial and developing nations.

Finance ministers have gathered in the Canadian capital city to discuss poverty-reduction strategies, as well as ways to combat a souring world economy and the funding of extremist groups.

The illegal movement of money around the globe has become a more prescient topic given the 11 September attacks in the US.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are also holding talks in Ottawa, after the attacks in the US led them to postpone a meeting planned for late September.

Tight security

The Group of 20 (G-20), as they are called, are meeting amid tight security. Around midday Ottawa time, security officials sealed off the perimeter area surrounding the conference centre where officials have gathered.

Protesters on the streets of Ottawa
There have been some protests but police are out in force
Just prior to the closing down of the perimeter, police in riot gear could be seen massing in areas to the north and south of the convention centre, preparing for confrontations with protestors who oppose free-trade pacts.

On the eve of the Ottawa meeting, several hundred anti-globalisation protesters took to the streets and large numbers of police have been deployed ahead of more protests expected later on Saturday.

One issue for the ministers is how to make borders more secure without creating a new barrier to international trade. Another is how to shut down the financing of networks behind terror attacks.

The rich countries have already made a start, agreeing to freeze the assets of people and organisations suspected of being involved. But they are anxious to encourage similar action around the world.

There will also be much discussion of the deterioration of global economic prospects since 11 September.

French message

Prior to the beginning of the G-20, French finance minister Laurent Fabius told reporters the wealthy countries of the world have an obligation to help Pakistan.

That obligation, he said, was not due to Pakistan's recent support for the US war effort in Afghanistan. Instead, it was necessary in order to help the country in its struggle against poverty.

Politics aside, Mr Fabius said, assistance must be provided to the country because poverty there is a reality.

Pakistan is expected to receive billions in aid from the World Bank and the IMF by the end of the year.

The BBC's Stephen Evans reports from Ottawa
"Protesters have been making their views heard loud and clear"
See also:

15 Nov 01 | Business
IMF sees global slowdown
17 Oct 01 | Business
Economic leaders choose Ottawa
10 Oct 01 | Business
Economic fallout
05 Oct 01 | Business
G7 plans to tackle slump
26 Sep 01 | Business
IMF warns on global economy
17 Sep 01 | Business
World Bank and IMF cancel talks
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