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Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

Finance ministers pledge to aggressively root out terrorists’ assets

October 7, 2001

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— The world's leading industrialized nations said they would vigorously pursue the financial assets of terrorists. They also pledged to work together to stimulate their economies that were already in a slump before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Finance ministers and central bank governors made these commitments after six hours of discussion Saturday in Washington.

"We stand united in our commitment to vigorously track down and intercept the assets of terrorists and to pursue the individuals and countries suspected of financing terrorists," the Group of Seven nations said in a joint statement.

The G-7 nations--the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada--said they were encouraged by the number of other countries that have agreed to join in the effort to make it harder for terrorists to use the international financial system.

The G-7 released a one-page action plan and also announced that the Financial Action Task Force, a group of nations focused on money laundering, would hold a special meeting in Washington on Oct. 29 and 30 to develop new policies to combat terrorist financing.

"We are well on the way to building an international coalition to disrupt terrorist fund raising," Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill declared.

French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius said pressure had to be applied to make all countries comply with whatever standards are developed, "particularly offshore centers."

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown agreed. "We must act to cut off the finances that are the lifeblood of terrorism," he said.

On the global economy, the finance ministers said last month's terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon "could delay the resumption of strong growth in our economies."

But the group said "decisive action has already been taken to support a robust recovery."

The statement did not specify what steps had been pursued or what additional measures might be taken to boost growth.

The European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and other central banks joined the Federal Reserve in the week after the attacks to cut interest rates. The Bush administration has pledged to support about $100 billion in extra spending and tax cuts in the United States.

The G-7 ministers took the unusual step of holding a joint news conference after their closed-door discussions to show their solidarity in the fight against terrorism. Normally, G-7 meetings end with each country holding its own news conference.

O'Neill, who was the host for the discussions along with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, told the gathering that he was heartened by the show of support and predicted the U.S. economy would soon rebound.

Despite the efforts at confidence-building, many economists believe the Sept. 11 attacks have pushed the U.S. economy into a full-blown recession and greatly increased the risk of a global downturn given that Japan is also believed to be in a recession and growth in Europe has slowed dramatically.

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