IMF, World Bank cancel their Sept. 29-30 annual meetings scheduled in Washington

Monday, September 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank announced Monday that they had canceled this year's annual meetings, saying security agents need time to focus on issues raised by last week's terrorist attacks.

In a joint statement, officials of the two multinational lending agencies headquartered in Washington said their normal operations would not be affected by the cancellation.

``This decision was taken out of deepest respect and sympathy for the families of all those touched by the horrific events of last Tuesday and in order to dedicate law enforcement personnel fully to the extraordinary and immediate priorities at hand,'' said IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler and World Bank President James Wolfensohn.

The two officials said that they expect to return to their regular schedule of meetings next year, which would mean a spring meeting of finance ministers from the 24 nations on the steering committees for both the IMF and World Bank.

Koehler and Wolfensohn said they would find other ways to deal with the issues that would have been addressed at the annual meetings.

After Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, District of Columbia Police Chief Charles Ramsey urged the IMF and World Bank to cancel the meetings.

City police had been counting on colleagues from other jurisdictions, including New York City, to help them deal with what they said could be as many as 100,000 protesters at the meetings.

World Bank spokeswoman Caroline Anstey had said last week that officials at both institutions were intent on helping to make sure that police forces were deployed in the best way to protect national security.

Many of the groups that had been planning to protest had already announced that they were calling off their demonstrations.

On Sunday, the Mobilization for Global Justice, the umbrella group for many of the protest organizations, said it was calling off its street demonstrations but would continue with plans for a ``people's summit'' of teach-ins and discussions Sept. 26-28.

``Our decision to postpone was made out of respect for the victims of this tragedy,'' the group said in a statement.

Last Friday, the AFL-CIO, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam America all announced that they were pulling out of the planned demonstrations.

While the annual meetings of the 183-nation IMF and World Bank have been canceled, officials have indicated that some events that normally take place around those discussions would continue.

Last week, the German Finance Ministry said a meeting of the finance ministers and central bank presidents of the seven wealthiest nations, the Group of Seven, was likely to be held but that the meeting might be moved from Washington.

The G-7 normally meets immediately before the spring and fall gatherings of the IMF and World Bank.