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Demonstrators Clash With Australian Police at Global Economic Meeting


Anti-globalization protesters have clashed with Australian police during a gathering of the world's most powerful economic leaders in Melbourne. Police used batons to repel demonstrators, as finance ministers and central bank chiefs met to discuss a range of issues, including aid to the third world and climate change.

There have been clashes between about 200 demonstrators and police in Melbourne, as delegates to the Group of 20 conference met at a hotel nearby.

Thousands of protesters have been voicing opposition to a range of issues, including globalization, the war in Iraq and environmental damage.

Inside the heavily protected conference, the world's financial power-brokers are discussing foreign aid and aging populations, as well as the effects of rising interest rates and climate change.

The G-20 group of industrialized nations represents two-thirds of the world's population and 90 percent of the global economy. Its members include industrialized powers, such as the United States, the European Union and Australia, as well as the largest developing economies, such as China, India and Brazil.

Anti-poverty activists have been lobbying G-20 members to do more to ease debt burdens in developing nations and to increase aid.

The Irish rock star, Bono, who is on tour in Australia with his band U2, has urged Australian Prime Minister John Howard to do more to help combat poverty. Bono spoke to the ABC network in Australia about his concerns.

"He's (John Howard) led your country to great prosperity, but he has also led your country to the bottom of the league table, in terms of involvement with the world's most vulnerable populations, and I don't think that's the kind of Australia that most people, left or right, want to live in," Bono said.

Campaigners want Australia to commit zero-point-seven percent of its gross domestic product to developing nations by 2015.

The Australian government has said it is optimistic the G-20 meeting can reach a consensus on how to improve global prosperity.

Speaking in Melbourne, the head of the International Monetary Fund said there was hope that stalled World Trade Organization talks on free trade could be revived.

Rodrigo de Rato said that negotiations that broke down in July because of disagreements between the U.S. and Europe over farm subsidies could restart, if all parties showed strong political leadership.

The IMF chief has warned that protectionism poses a threat to the global economy.

The G-20 meeting concludes in Melbourne on Sunday.

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