G20 Members Condemn North Korea

The Associated Press
Sunday, November 19, 2006; 4:44 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Group of 20 economies on Sunday condemned North Korea for its nuclear test, upheld a vow to fight terrorist financing and expressed concern about surging global demand for energy resources.

"All of the countries represented at the G-20 deplore that test and the instability that it threatens on the Korean peninsula," Australian Treasurer Peter Costello told reporters at a news conference at the end of two days of closed-door meetings of finance ministers and central bankers from 20 of the world's top economies.

In a final communique, the officials reaffirmed their commitment "to take action against money laundering and terrorist and illicit financing." Though the statement didn't elaborate, it was certainly directed at North Korea and Iran, countries G20 member the United States has accused of carrying out such activities.

Officials from 19 countries and the European Union, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund attended the talks in the southern Australian city of Melbourne, which were marred by large-scale anti-globalization protests Saturday. There was tight security, but no protests, on Sunday.

The finance ministers also discussed the global thirst for energy and resources, especially among fast-growing economies including China and India.

"Global demand for energy and minerals commodities is set to increase significantly over coming decades driven by a strong world economy, rising incomes and ongoing industrialization in many economies," the statement said.

"We have achieved a consensus that lasting resource security will be best facilitated by open trade and investment," Costello said.

The communique also said that "strengthening markets" and "encouraging efficiency" were the best way to deliver lasting security in resources.

The G-20 said a successful conclusion to the stalled Doha round of world trade talks was "essential" to ensure faster global economic growth to help reduce poverty, warning that global prosperity was under threat from "rising protectionism in trade and investment."

"Stable growth depends on open trade," the statement said.

The G-20 stopped short of condemning North Korea in written form for carrying out its underground nuclear test on Oct. 9, something Japan had wanted inserted in the communique.

"Because it was a meeting of economic ministers and central bankers, there was a view that we shouldn't just broaden the agenda to issues outside our principal area of work. That's why it wasn't mentioned" in the final statement, Costello said.

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