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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 11:37 GMT
Poverty 'fuelling terrorism'
Anti-globalisation protesters in Monterrey
Rich countries are being urged to close the poverty gap
World leaders meeting at a development summit in Mexico have called for increased aid to poor countries to help stamp out extreme poverty as a motivation for terrorism.

"Poverty in all its forms is the greatest single threat to peace, security, democracy, human rights and the environment," the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Michael Moore, told delegates.

[Poverty] is a time bomb lodged against the heart of liberty

Michael Moore, WTO president
US President George W Bush, who arrived at the venue in Monterrey on Thursday night, is due to address the conference on Friday.

Leaders from 50 states attending the final two days of the week-long meeting are expected to sign an agreement on Friday calling on wealthy countries to help reduce the poverty gap, and for poorer nations to use foreign aid more efficiently.

At the opening of the summit on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it was in the interests of rich states to help poorer countries.

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An unequal world

"No-one in this world can feel comfortable, or safe, while so many are suffering and deprived," he said.

More aid needed

Mr Annan urged industrialised countries to double their annual assistance to the Third World.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Annan urged richer countries to double their donations

The United Nations has said advanced countries need to donate $100bn a year in order to halve global poverty by the year 2015.

Ahead of the meeting, the prime ministers of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg and the Netherlands issued a joint statement urging leaders to "do what it takes" to meet the goal.

But, correspondents say, the ambitious target set at the UN's Millennium Summit in 2000 is already slipping behind schedule.

Breeding ground for violence

Several leaders who addressed the Monterrey conference said that defeating poverty would thwart a major driving force behind international terrorism.

President Bush arrives in Monterrey
Mr Bush will defend America's foreign aid programme

President of the UN General Assembly, Han Seung-Soo, called the world's poorest countries "the breeding ground for violence and despair".

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, who cut short his visit after a car bombing in the Peruvian capital, Lima, also linked poverty to violence.

"To speak of development is to speak also of a strong and determined fight against terrorism," he said.

In his speech, the American president will link deprivation to the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.

Mr Bush is also expected to counter criticism that the world's most prosperous country is spending too little on foreign aid.

The US has promised to increase foreign aid spending by 50% over three years from 2004, after the original plan set out by Mr Bush last week was criticised as not being enough.

'Not enough'

At a rare press conference, the heads of key international institutions - the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the WTO - expressed confidence that progress was being made towards solving global poverty.

Cuban President Fidel Castro
Castro criticised the world's financial system

But the summit also heard strong reservations from leaders of developing countries.

The President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, said the UN targets did not go far enough, while Cuban President Fidel Castro used the occasion to denounce the world's financial system as a "gigantic casino".

Mr Castro left the summit hours before Mr Bush arrived, citing "special circumstances" as the reason behind his departure.

The BBC's David Loyn
"One of the agreed UN goals will mean a doubling of aid"
Oxfam Policy Director Justin Forsyth
"We are quite surprised by how much the US have come up with"
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