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Monday, May 11, 1998 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK

World: Middle East

Developing nations raise their voice
image: [ Host, President Mubarak and President Suharto want co-operation in future to avoid economic crises ]
Host, President Mubarak and President Suharto want co-operation in future to avoid economic crises

The Cairo summit is being dominated by the crisis in the Asian markets. Among those taking part is the Indonesian President, Suharto, who told the gathering that his country had to make major sacrifices to cope with the fallout from the Asian crisis. Our Middle East correspondent, Jim Muir, reports.

President Suharto, who's spending a week in Cairo despite the unrest currently sweeping Indonesia, blamed his problem squarely on the Asian market crisis.

Its destructive effect had, he said, wiped out many of the gains of three decades of national effort. The country was now obliged to carry out major economic and financial reforms entailing huge sacrifices which were affecting its reserves and what he called its social discipline.

President Suharto said the crisis had made the need for greater international co-operation more urgent than ever.

This is bound to be the main message emerging from this summit.

Voice of the south

In his opening address President Mubarak of Egypt stressed the increasing inter-dependence of the world economies and what he called the contagion affect of weakness spreading from one economy to another through rapid capital flights.

The industrialised countries must formulate policies which avoided excessive disturbances, he said, and the voice of the south, the developing world, must be strong and must be heard.

To that end he's already been in touch with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair who'll be playing host to a summit meeting of the industrialised nations in a few days' time.

The developing countries gathered here want their voice to be heard both there and at a later meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

Who are the G-15?

The Group of 15 was established in 1989, at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade. It covers one-third of the world's population. At the group's last meeting in November 1997, the original 15 members were joined by Kenya, bringing the total to 16 but the group's name remained the same.

The G-15 members are Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

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