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WTO Meeting Opens Amid Anti-Globalization, Farmers Protests

The 149 members of the World Trade Organization have opened talks in Hong Kong aimed at cutting global trade barriers and lifting millions of people out of poverty. The talks got underway as thousands of anti-globalization activists took to the streets.

The meeting kicked off with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy telling members that despite wide differences going into the talks there is hope for an agreement.

Speaking above the shouting of demonstrators, he said it is possible for participants to walk away from these talks with something in hand.

"But for that, some risks have to be taken," said Pascal Lamy. "A popular Chinese proverb says if you don't go in the cave with the tiger, how will you get its cub. In other words, nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Negotiations are deadlocked primarily over demands by poor countries that richer ones liberalize farm trade, while wealthy nations want developing economies to open markets to industrial products and services.

More than a dozen anti-globalization activists managed to get into the opening ceremony, where they shouted slogans and held written signs, including some that said "WTO, Go to Hell."

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