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Annan Urges Focus on Economic Development - 2004-01-23


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is calling on world leaders to refocus their attention on urgent economic development issues, saying they have been overshadowed by the Iraq conflict and the global war on terror.

Speaking today (Friday) at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Annan said security issues have diverted attention from other critical issues, such as poverty, health and education. He said time has come, in his words, "to re-balance the international agenda."

Mr. Annan warned that the war against international terrorism -- like terrorism itself -- not only threatens peace and stability, but also can aggravate cultural, religious, and ethnic divisions and raise human-rights and civil-liberties concerns.

The UN chief called on the world's business and economic leaders to use their influence with governments to enhance security and make trade more fair.

He said unfair trade practices, including government agricultural subsidies, make it harder for poorer countries exporting foodstuffs to gain a foothold in the world market and increase tensions about the control of natural resources.

This is the third day of the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort. Vice President Cheney is expected to address the conference on Saturday.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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