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USA: IMF/World Bank Set to Call Off D.C. Meeting

by Mark EganReuters
September 12th, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Staff at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were resigned Wednesday that their upcoming annual meetings at the end of September would be cancelled, saying an announcement was expected within days.

"The meetings are going to be called off," an IMF source told Reuters, adding that the lender was awaiting word from the U.S. Treasury -- the official host of the Washington summit -- before making an official announcement.

The source said an announcement was, "at least two days away."

D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey on Tuesday urged the international lenders to call off their meetings in the aftermath of terror attacks that caused both towers of New York's famed World Trade Center to collapse.

The attacks also saw a hijacked plane crash into the Pentagon, costing many lives and putting local police and emergency workers in crisis mode.

Washington Mayor Anthony Williams told local radio station WAMU Wednesday there were "strong arguments" in favor of calling off the meetings.

Among the problems posed for local police is how to manage crowd control in the face of an expected massive protest in Washington. Police had said they would rely heavily on officers drafted from New York and elsewhere to help staff the event.

But given the massive operations in downtown Manhattan, it now seems 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 tense as police deployment has escalated. One protester was killed by police during clashes at a mid-July summit in Genoa.

IMF spokesman Bill Murray and World Bank spokeswoman Caroline Anstey both said no decision had been made, but that the meetings will be discussed in the coming days.

As the host country of the meetings, the United States advises the World Bank and IMF about security details of the meetings in Washington. Police were preparing for as many as 100,000 protesters to take part in demonstrations against the policies of both institutions.

One of the main protest organizers, the Mobilization for Global Justice, is mulling its options including whether to curtail or down-size some of the protests.

The annual meetings bring together finance ministers and central bank governors from around the world to discuss the global economic situation. The event, currently scheduled for Sept. 29 and 30, had already been shortened to two days because of the planned street protests.

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