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Poverty Threat

th/sms/ap/afpMarch 14, 2009

The head of the World Bank has urged the world's 20 largest economies not to forget developing countries in the search for ways to kick start the global economy. Yet getting any agreement at all could prove difficult.

Girl with a bottle feeds a baby atop a pile of garbage
Global economic hard times mean millions are falling into povertyImage: AP

World Bank President Robert Zoellick is worried about the plight of people in developing countries as the global economy takes a turn for the worse.

"Millions will be falling into poverty and we estimate that with the gross slowdown 200,000 to 400,000 more babies will die each year," Zoellick told reporters in London on Friday, March 13.

Finance ministers from G20 group of wealthy and developing nations are meeting in London on Saturday. There, they will attempt to find common ground on the best ways to deal with the global financial crisis ahead of a G20 summit scheduled for April 2. G20 countries together represent more than 80 percent of the global economy.

Zoellick, a former top US State Department official, warned that 2009 "is shaping up to be a very dangerous year" and called for wealthy G20 countries to take immediate action.

Europe downplays divisions

Robert Zoellick
Robert Zoellick said poor countries can't be ignoredImage: AP

With talks of a trans-Atlantic rift growing over the week, Europe's finance ministers insisted that there was a lot of common ground. The United States has been calling for additional spending measures; something which many European countries have said is not the right focus. Countries such as Germany and France have insisted that regulations on banks be tightened.

"I don't actually think that the divisions between the European countries and the US are anything like what has been described over the last few days," the meeting's host, British finance minister Alistair Darling, told BBC radio on Friday.

"I think on both sides of the Atlantic -- and also, for that matter, in other parts of the world -- there is a commitment to ensure that we support people, support businesses and our economies," he added.