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Brazilian President Calls for International Poverty Fund - 2003-01-27

Brazil's new President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is urging major industrial nations to set up an international fund to tackle poverty. President da Silva made the appeal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland two-days after addressing the anti-globalization World Social Forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil.

At his first major speech before world leaders, President da Silva presented his challenge to the Davos Forum's rich and powerful. He urged that a new global fund to be set up to aid the world's poorest people. He spoke through an interpreter.

"I propose to form an international fund to fight misery, hunger, poverty in the Third World country that could be constituted by the G-7 countries and stimulated by major international investors," he said.

President da Silva said industrial countries were spending billions on arms, while millions in the developing world die because they cannot eat the calories they need. He provided no further details for the proposed fund.

A former trade-union leader, President da Silva, who is known to Brazilians as Lula, won a landslide election victory last October criticizing protectionist policies of rich nations. He called for reciprocal free trade that would give the developing world a chance to emerge from poverty and illiteracy.

At Davos, President da Silva called on the industrialized nations to open up their markets to imports from poor countries. He also said participants from the World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum should come together and learn from each other.