- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund yesterday pulled the plug on their meetings planned for Sept. 29 and 30 in Washington, saying they wanted to avoid a drain on police resources stretched thin because of last week's terror attacks.

"This decision was taken out of deepest respect and sympathy for the families of all those touched by the horrific events of last Tuesday, and in order to dedicate law-enforcement personnel fully to the extraordinary and immediate priorities at hand," said World Bank President James Wolfensohn.

The decision, nearly a week after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and severely damaged the Pentagon, came after IMF and World Bank board meetings in Washington. Mr. Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler said in a joint statement that both institutions would carry out business through other means.

"The normal business of the bank and the fund will not be interrupted," they said. "Alternative arrangements for conducting the required business of the meetings will be determined."

IMF spokesman Bill Murray said that the two institutions may yet reschedule the meetings for later this year. In any case, the World Bank and IMF will hold their spring meetings in Washington in April 2002.

The decision came soon after the major organizers of protests directed at the World Bank and IMF abandoned plans to bring up to 100,000 people to Washington at the end of the month.

"We choose this course of action regardless of the plans of the World Bank and IMF, and we respect organizations that choose a different path," said the Mobilization for Global Justice, an umbrella organization of protest groups, in a statement late Sunday.

The organization said it would still hold a three-day educational forum beginning Sept. 26. Another group, the International Action Center, said it would still organize a protest "against war and racism" on Sept. 29.

Last week, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles H. Ramsey, already wary of the violent protests that have accompanied recent international economic meetings, called on the IMF and World Bank to abandon the meetings in the wake of the terror attacks.

D.C. authorities had hoped to bring New York City and Arlington County police officers — now struggling to handle the fallout from the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks — to Washington for additional security.

"Because of the security concerns we pointed out, we felt we could not protect them sufficiently," Chief Ramsey said.

Chief Ramsey said he still expects a small group of anarchist protesters, who have been blamed for much of the violence at recent international meetings, to stage protests.

"They claim they are still coming," Chief Ramsey said. "We will be prepared. Let's hope they remain peaceful."

There was no word on the fate of a parallel meeting of central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized countries, who had been due to meet in Washington on the same weekend.

Jim Keary contributed to this report, which was based in part on wire service reports.

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