Washington The world's major industrial powers pledged on Saturday to work together to boost growth in a global economy badly shaken by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to intensify their efforts to choke off money flowing to terrorist organizations.
The commitments were made by the finance ministers and central bank presidents of the world's seven wealthiest nations following six hours of discussion 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 communique.
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 freeze terrorist assets. The G-7 released a one-page action plan mapping out further efforts they will take to boost cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
They said the Financial Action Task Force, created more than a decade ago by industrialized countries to coordinate efforts to halt money laundering, would hold a special meeting in Washington on Oct. 29 and 30 to map out a comprehensive strategy to pursue terrorist finances.
The group also released a one-page action plan spelling out the efforts that would be made in each country to increase cooperation among nations to better track terrorist funds.
"We are well on the way to building an international coalition to disrupt terrorist fund-raising," Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill declared.
On the global economy, the finance ministers said that 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" and they declared, "We are confident about our future prospects."
The communique 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 and the Bush administration has pledged to support about $100 billion in extra spending and tax cuts in the United States.
Confident about future
"Notwithstanding remaining short-term uncertainties, we are confident about our future prospects," the group said.
The G-7 ministers took the unusual step of holding a joint news conference following 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.
"Our actions, along with the steps being taken by our G-7 partners, will soon reinvigorate global growth," O'Neill said.
Many economists believe the Sept. 11 attacks have pushed the U.S. economy into a full-blown recession, raising the risk of a global downturn if Europe and Japan don't find more ways to bolster their own economies.
Russia was invited to participate with the G-7 countries in Saturday's talks because of the important role the United States hopes it will play in disrupting terrorist financing.
Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin told reporters that he had pledged Russia's full cooperation in the effort to freeze terrorist assets. Russia in the past has been criticized for failing to do enough to stop money laundering activities.
The Bush administration is working on a list that could double the current 27 individuals and groups being targeted in the campaign to halt the flow of money to terrorist groups, including those connected with Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
As part of a new stimulus package, President Bush on Friday called on Congress to agree to an additional $60 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses to go with the $55 billion in emergency assistance Congress has approved for reconstruction and the airline industry.