World Bank, IMF say they want annual meetings cancelled
Reuters News Agency
Friday, September 14, 2001
WASHINGTON -- The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund want to cancel their annual meetings set for the end of the month in Washington in the wake of Tuesday's terror attacks, a senior World Bank source said yesterday.
However, the decision is up to the U.S. government, since it is hosting the meeting.
"The bank and the fund want to cancel the meetings," the source told Reuters.
A World Bank spokesman said officials at the bank and the fund would discuss the issue with the U.S. Treasury later in the day.
Earlier, an Italian official said Italy favours delaying the meetings, while a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry said the meetings are unlikely to take place as scheduled.
Meanwhile, a member of the IMF board said Anne Krueger, its first-deputy managing director, told the board that the matter was "under active consideration" and a decision was expected soon.
Ms. Krueger told board members that the IMF and World Bank were weighing a feeling that the meetings should be cancelled in light of Tuesday's attacks against the desire to show that there should be "business as usual."
The IMF source said World Bank president James Wolfensohn has floated a possible compromise that would see the IMF meetings pared back to one day of meetings in either London or Paris. The source said such a move would avoid further strain on Washington, which is still reeling from the attacks, while showing that terror will not prevail.
District of Columbia police chief Charles Ramsey has urged the international lenders to call off their meetings. Washington Mayor Anthony Williams said there were "strong arguments" in favour of calling off the meetings, given security concerns. "It's something we need to reconsider."
As many as 100,000 protesters were expected at the meetings, slated to take place at the end of September, and sources at the World Bank said the lenders had no desire to put Washington through any more trouble so soon after Tuesday's attacks.
Local police would face difficult crowd control issues if the meetings go forward, given the planned protests. Police had said they would rely heavily on officers drafted from New York and elsewhere to help staff the event.
But given the huge policing operations now under way in Manhattan, it now appears impossible for the city to spare its own much-needed police to help Washington tackle anti-globalization protesters.
Protests at global financial summits have grown increasingly violent recently, with one protester killed in clashes with police at a mid-July summit in Genoa, Italy.
One of the main protest organizers, the Mobilization for Global Justice, is mulling its options, including whether to curtail or downsize some of the protests if the meetings go ahead.
The annual meetings attract finance ministers and central bank governors from around the world to discuss the economic situation.