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G-7 Finance Ministers: Global Economy On The Mend - 2002-04-20

Amid peaceful protests, two days of finance meetings are underway by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.

Finance ministers from the world's seven richest industrial countries met for dinner Friday and then resumed their talks for nearly three hours Saturday morning. Paul O'Neill, the U.S. treasury secretary who hosted the talks, says there was agreement that the world economy is recovering from recession. In a one-page statement, the Group of Seven says the major risks to the world recovery are higher oil prices and continuing stagnation in Japan.

Mr. O'Neill says the European, Japanese and North American finance ministers all believe the Japanese economy can perform much better than it is at present. "The place to look is in the quarterly reports to see if Japan is growing at two or three percent," he said. "That's where we are. Those (like me) who have hopes and wishes for Japan will look to see the results."

Japan currently is not growing at all and is in its third recession in ten years.

Mr. O'Neill says the Group of Seven has agreed to widen its cooperation in tracking down money that finances terrorist organizations.

"We dedicated ourselves to following the money to where it seems to go," he explained. "And understanding financial mechanisms that to many people in the world, they've not even known that they existed. So-called hawala money exchange activities."

Dozens of finance ministers are in Washington for the semi-annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The Group of Seven countries (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) are the largest shareholders of the nearly 190 countries that own the World Bank and IMF.

The anti-globalization and pro-Palestine demonstrations were noticed by the finance ministers but there were no significant disturbances. The meetings conclude on Sunday.