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The BBC's Tom Carver reports from Washington
"It was supposed to be a non-violent demonstration"
 real 28k

The BBC's Paul Reynolds
The police will in due course have to get the delegates out
 real 28k

The BBC's Andrew Walker in Washington
"Protesters have clearly failed to shut down the event"
 real 28k

Protester, Patrick Reinsborough
"A truly historic day"
 real 28k

Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Police clash with IMF protesters
Police have used batons as well as tear gas
Police have used batons as well as tear gas
Police have fired tear gas at protesters attempting to disrupt an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington.

The clash with 300 anarchists in central Washington took place as thousands of other protesters blocked streets around the IMF and World Bank buildings nearby.

But the protesters failed to prevent the IMF's main policy-making committee from meeting.

Most demonstrations were peaceful
Most demonstrations were peaceful
Delegates started arriving at 0500 local time (1000 GMT) before the protesters had assembled.

However, correspondents say it is not clear whether they will be able to leave.

Police estimate that between 6,000 and 10,000 people are flooding the streets to demonstrate against globalisation, which they say favours big business at the expense of ordinary people, especially those in developing countries.

Absent delegates

A BBC correspondent says the two rounds of tear gas fired by police had a temporary calming effect on the protesters, who were wearing black hoods.


We will meet, we will get through this.

IMF acting chief, Stanley Fischer
Earlier, police used pepper spray against some demonstrators and hit others with batons as they tried to push back crowds breaking down a barricade outside the US Treasury Department, next to the White House.

IMF acting managing director Stanley Fischer told reporters as he arrived for the meeting: "We will meet, we will get through this."

However IMF officials said some heads of delegations were absent from the meetings. At one point, French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius was negotiating with protesters to gain entry.

Police were also preventing people from leaving the building because of the danger from tear gas outside.

Washington police fear a repeat of last December's riots at the world trade summit in Seattle.

The police chief, Charles Ramsey, says he does not mind peaceful demonstrations, but he is determined to prevent violence.

Shared concerns

Inside the IMF meeting hall, finance ministers from 24 rich and poor countries had a heavy agenda to tackle.

Washington police prevent demonstrators marching
Police say they will use all means to restrain protests
Several of them have said they share the demonstrators' main concern - to reduce poverty - and they will be discussing issues relating to this.

The ministers and IMF officials were also examining progress on debt relief for developing countries under a scheme agreed last September.

Another item on the agenda was what might be done to prevent a repeat of the the Asian economic crisis.

One idea is more active surveillance by the IMF for early warning signs of trouble brewing.

Arrests

On Saturday, police arrested more than 600 protesters who they said had been marching without a permit.

They also raided and closed down a warehouse used by protesters as their headquarters, saying fire officials had found it to be unsafe.

The weekend's meetings - which began with a gathering on Saturday of finance ministers from the G7 group of leading industrialised nations - were also overshadowed by huge falls in the price of shares in New York on Friday.

A policy-making meeting of the World Bank is scheduled for Monday.

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See also:

16 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Anti-IMF protests
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The World Bank defends itself
16 Apr 00 | Business
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13 Apr 00 | Business
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