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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
G-77 summit to target wealth gap
Mr Annan and President Castro
Kofi Annan of the UN gave one of the opening speeches
By Tom Gibb in Havana

The largest summit of countries from the developing world in years has begun in the Cuban capital, Havana.

The three-day summit is being attended by 133 countries of the G-77 group.



The summit will look at such issues as debt relief, access for developing countries to first world markets and technology, and the future of the United Nations

Most of the 40 or so heads of state attending are from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia.

They include the leaders of Nigeria, South Africa, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Zimbabwe.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, is also in Havana for the summit.

Poverty gap

The summit, its Cuban hosts point out, is being held at the start of a century in which the gap between the richest 20% of the world, and the poorest 20%, has widened sharply.


President Castro of Cuba
The Cuban leader called for the abolishing of the IMF
It is one of President Fidel Castro's constant arguments that the present world order is unsustainable and will lead, sooner or later, to disaster.

The Cubans are saying they want the summit to find a common position for the countries of the developing south to stand up to the developed north.

It will continue the rebellion started in Seattle, said Cuba's Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque, against the rich countries who want to hijack the World Trade Organisation for their own interests.

Issues

The summit will look at such issues as debt relief, access for developing countries to first world markets and technology, and the future of the United Nations.

A final declaration is expected to oppose linking trade with labour standards, or imposing strong environmental standards.

It is also likely to come up with initiatives for co-operation among developing countries, and in this area Cuba's health and education services are seen as a model.

But some of the leaders are also stressing the need for developing countries to set standards of more democratic and transparent government - although mention of this is conspicuously absent from the draft declaration.

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See also:

10 Apr 00 | Americas
Third World leaders gather in Cuba
09 Nov 99 | Americas
UN votes to end Cuba embargo
01 Jan 00 | Americas
Cuba ignores the party
01 Jan 99 | Americas
Castro: The great survivor
17 Nov 99 | Americas
Castro dismisses democracy calls
16 Nov 99 | Americas
Democracy plea at Cuba summit
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