HALIFAX, Nova Scotia - Expressing confidence in the global economy, the finance ministers of the world's industrial powers said Saturday their bosses will discuss a new relationship between developed and developing countries at an upcoming summit.
As the two-day meeting of finance ministers concluded, riot police fired tear gas to disperse several dozen protesters outside the convention center and arrested 19 people in confrontations at four locations.
Sgt. Don Spicer of the Halifax Regional Police said protesters threw bottles, buckets and one "flaming object" at police. He was unable to say what charges those detained would face.
No injuries were reported in the scuffling between the police and protesters complaining about the closed meeting and seeking the Western governments to commit money for worldwide development programs.
Any such announcement of major new funding will come at a summit of the leaders of the world seven most industrialized nations plus Russia. The summit is being held June 26-27 in Kananaskis, Alberta.
The finance ministers instead worked on details of reforms for development aid programs, discussed the health of the world economy and economic trouble spots such as Argentina.
"Since we last met, growth in our economies has strengthened and should continue to consolidate throughout the year," said a final statement from the ministers of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. "We are thus confident about our future prospects."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said the U.S. economy appeared likely to achieve quarterly growth of 3 percent or more by the end of the year to spur the global economy.
"The United States is playing an appropriate locomotive role ... in moving the world economy back toward, hopefully, a rate of real growth of 3 percent," he said.
The ministers called for Argentina to take stronger action to resolve its crisis that saw it default on dlrs 141 billion in debt last year. They said Argentina must consider bank restructuring while working with the International Monetary Fund on a recovery program.
Most of the discussion dealt with reforming development aid programs — what British Chancellor of the Exchequer James Gordon Brown called a "new compact ... between developed and developing countries."
The underlying principle is for developing nations to assume responsibility for stability and good governance that will make them attractive to both aid donors and foreign investors.
The finance ministers endorsed a compromise on the form of World Bank aid for the poorest countries, agreeing that about 20 percent should be grants with no repayment instead of traditional low- or zero-interest loans.
U.S. officials wanted more grants to ease the debt burden of poor countries while Britain and other European countries argued that would undermine funding for the World Bank program.
The ministers also tried to work out differences on debt forgiveness for poor countries.
"It's not simply enough to forgive debt if the poorest countries still do not have the revenues to sustain" economic stability and growth, said Canadian Finance Minister John Manley.
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