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Hundreds of Protesters Arrested as IMF, World Bank Ministers Set Financial Policies - 2002-09-27

Amid scattered street protests, finance ministers from around the world are in Washington for preliminary talks ahead of Sunday's annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The highlight Friday is the gathering of the seven nations that set policy for the two global financial organizations.

The seven officials from Europe, Canada, Japan and the United States are meeting at Blair House, the presidential guest residence next to the White House. The main topics are exchange rates, the subdued pace of global recovery, oil prices, and African development.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who is hosting the gathering, says the ministers seek an effective early warning system for predicting financial crises.

"Putting in place a system for preventing financial crises and when they do occur to identify them early and resolve them in a predictable way and to prohibit them from spreading to other nations," Mr. O'Neill said.

The most recent financial crisis has been in Argentina with the threat of it spreading to Brazil. Mr. O'Neill says the Group of Seven is also concerned about making the results of foreign assistance measurable and going after the financial assets of terrorist organizations.

Meanwhile representatives of 24 developing countries are meeting at IMF headquarters two blocks away. Nearby, protesters were demonstrating against the IMF and World Bank, accusing both organizations of promoting poverty.

The financial meetings continue Saturday and Sunday.