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IMF, World Bank Meet in Washington - 2004-04-24


Thousands of demonstrators are expected today (Saturday) in Washington to protest the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The anti-globalization protesters charge that IMF and World Bank lending policies have hurt developing nations, saying some poor countries must spend more on debt repayments than on health care and education.

Organizers say their protests will be peaceful. But Washington police have closed several streets to keep demonstrators away from the World Bank and IMF buildings.

Delegates to the two days of talks will hear predictions of surging global economic growth.

In its annual World Economic Outlook, the IMF said it expects the global economy will increase by four-point-six percent this year -- the fastest rate of growth since the year 2000. However, the report also said rising crude oil prices could slow growth everywhere.

It also forecasts weak economic momentum in the 12 Euro zone countries, where growth is expected to be only one-point-seven percent. In sharp contrast, the U.S. economy is expected to increase 4.6%.

The meetings are also likely to focus on a World Bank report that says global poverty has decreased by nearly one-half in the past 20 years.

The report said the biggest advances were made in Asia, while Africa made the slowest progress. The World Bank says extreme poverty is on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of people living on income of less than one dollar a day has doubled.

Information for this report is provided bty AP and Reuters.

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