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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
IMF failing to agree on debt plan
Gordon Brown takes questions at the IMF meeting, with IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato, left, and IMF spokesman Tom Dawson.
UK chancellor Gordon Brown is leading the calls for debt relief
The world's leading finance officials and ministers appear to have failed to reach agreement on debt relief for the poorest nations.

Wrapping up a weekend of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank talks in Washington, no agreement seems to have been secured.

While UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has put forward a specific 100% debt relief programme, others are more cautious.

So far the IMF members have not been able to agree on a concrete plan.

All the IMF's policymaking arm - International Monetary and Financial Committee - could agree to on Saturday was to reaffirm its pledge to ease the debt burden of the world's most impoverished nations.

Many countries are still being forced to choose between servicing their debts and making investments in health, education and infrastructure
Gordon Brown

In a statement it said it "looks forward to further consideration of outstanding issues in the proposed framework for debt sustainability, before it is made fully operational, and of further debt relief, including its financing."

UK pressure

The failure to reach agreement appears to have come despite the best possible efforts of Mr Brown.

Earlier on Saturday he had reiterated the UK government's pledge to write off its share of debt owed to the World Bank and the African Development Bank by poor countries and called on other nations to do the same.

"Many countries are still being forced to choose between servicing their debts and making investments in health, education and infrastructure," said Mr Brown.

"There's a growing consensus that multilateral debt relief has to be dealt with as soon as possible."

The IMF left the issue for later consideration.

Golden ideal

Under Mr Brown's proposals, the IMF would help pay for debt relief by revaluing its substantial gold holdings.

Action Aid, a charity which campaigns for the cancellation of the debt of the world's poorest nations, expressed its disappointment that the IMF had failed to reach agreement.

"It's time to replace notebooks with cheque books," said Action Aid spokesman Romilly Greenhill.

Earlier the IMF voiced its concern about the dangers of rising oil prices to global prosperity.

At Friday's accompanying meeting of the G7 group of wealthiest industrialised nations, their finance ministers called on China to look towards allowing the yuan to float freely on the international currency markets.

Currently China has tied its value to the US dollar, a position which US government has long complained makes Chinese exports un-naturally cheap.

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