This is Steve Emberwith the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.
The World Economic Forum meeting ended this week in New YorkCity. About two-thousand-seven-hundred heads of government, businessleaders and members of non-governmental organizations met for fivedays. They announced programs meant to improve living conditions inAfrica. They also discussed security and economic issues after theterrorist attacks on the United States.
The Forum is a private, independent group of business andpolitical leaders. Its aim is to improve economic growth and socialprogress throughout the world. For the past thirty-one years, it metin Davos, Switzerland. The conference was held in New York this yearto show support for the city after the terrorist attacks.
New York officials provided heavysecurity for the event. At one point, as many as seven-thousanddemonstrators gathered. Many of them protested the opening of worldmarkets for increased trade. They say easing trade restrictionsharms workers. None of the demonstrations was as violent as atsimilar, past events in other cities.
During the meeting, the Group ofSeven industrial countries and Russia announced afive-hundred-million-dollar new project to help Africa. This projectwould aid African countries that create programs to improve tradeand investments.
American businessman Bill Gates and his wife Melinda head aprivate-assistance organization. Mister Gates told the Forum thatthe organization is giving fifty-million dollars to prevent H-I-Vvirus and AIDS disease in Africa. However, he said private giftsalone would not solve poor health and living conditions. FormerMexican President Ernesto Zedillo and activist musician Bono alsodiscussed ways to improve health and living conditions.
Many delegates at the World Economic Forum were concerned aboutthe slow world economy after the terrorist attacks in September.Some worried about the effects of the failure of the American energycompany, Enron. They said the problems of the company could worsenthe worldwide economy.
Most speakers praised the United States led campaign againstterrorism in Afghanistan. However, some diplomats expressed concernthat America might extend military action without seeking approvalfrom other nations.
In Porto Alegre, Brazil, forty-thousand people held a verydifferent conference. The World Social Forum ended Tuesday.Delegates denounced United States military action and defensespending. They discussed ways to stop a Free Trade Area of theAmericas. It was organized by the United States to provide a unitedtrade area from Alaska to Argentina by Two-Thousand-Five. WorldSocial Forum delegates said free trade agreements increasedifferences between rich and poor in the area.
This VOA Special English program In the News was written byJerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.