Terrorism, poverty dominate day two of WEF meet

New York, February 2: | Updated: Feb 3 2002, 05:30am hrs
Terrorism and poverty dominated the agenda of the World Economic Forum on the second day on Friday with several participants contending that the two were interlinked and can only be fought through empowerment of people.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (L) listens to opening remarks by Klaus Schwab, president of the World Economic Forum at its meet on Friday.
The United States vowed to root out terrorism, saying war against the scourge had just begun but it also stressed the need to fight poverty, despair and hopelessness.

Meanwhile, top American officials said in a blunt message that the US would follow its own policies in fighting terrorism even if its allies do not agree, reports emanating from the closed-door panels here suggested that the message was not appreciated by everyone and was received with apprehension.

On a day when reports said the Bush administration was seeking huge increase in its military budget, addressing a panel discussion, secretary of state Colin Powell expressed his governments determination to go after terrorism wherever it threatens free men and women and made clear it was prepared to take on even regimes. His remarks assume significance in view of President George W Bush identifying Iran, Iraq and North Korea as axis of evil.

We have to go after poverty, we have to go after despair, we have to go after hopelessness, he said. As we fight terrorism, using military means and legal means and law enforcement and intelligence means and going after the financial infrastructure of terrorist organisations, we also have to put hope back in the hearts of the people, he added.

We have to show people who might move in the direction of terrorism that there is a better way, he told nearly 3,000 industrial elite from all over the world gathered in a posh New York hotel.

Besides, Mr Powell, American treasury secretary Paul ONeill and home land security director Tom Ridge addressed various panels, which were closed to the press.

Mr ONeill reportedly told a panel attended by top business people and financiers that the administration stopped aid to Argentina last year because they just dont reform.

Some panelists said Afghanistan would provide a test ground on how far a country ravaged by war and terrorism can be rebuilt.

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo told reporters later that terrorism cannot be fought without eradicating poverty as poor nations were becoming breeding grounds for recruiting terrorists. The deliberations went underway as a strong police force of around 5,000 officers stood ready on a rainy day to put down anti-globalisation demonstrations.

Concrete blocks were erected as security personnel braced for a huge turn-out of protesters with one activist saying that thousands of demonstrators could show up.

On the opening day Thursday, however, protestors were so few that one of them carried a placard protesting their absence. The forums website crashed on Friday apparently after being attacked by hackers and three groups claimed responsibility but officials said they were still looking into the cause. PTI