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Italy Forgives $6 Billion in Debt

July 14, 2000

ROME (AP) _ Italy is canceling $6 billion in debt owed by 62 developing countries, the Foreign Ministry said Friday, and intends to push other rich countries to do the same.

The measure absolves 41 of the countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola, of all of their debt to Italy.

The debt relief stems from an agreement reached at last summer’s summit of the leaders of the world’s seven largest economies. The accord came in response to an aggressive global lobbying campaign led by a coalition of religious groups.

The seven rich countries _ Italy, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, and Canada _ have another summit July 21-23 in Okinawa, Japan.

Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said that Italy is the first of the group to cancel debt and it intends in Okinawa to push its summit partners to follow suit.

The Italian relief package includes several formulas. Some countries will get partial debt relief combined with aid packages. Others get only debt relief. The measure includes the equivalent of up to $2 billion in aid money.

The package passed its final parliamentary hurdle Thursday, winning the unanimous approval of the Senate.

Italian missionary groups hailed the measure, but said it was just a start.

``The afterthought of the creditor nations must not be: OK we did our part and now they can’t ask for more,″ said the Rev. Francesco Marini, general superior of the Xaverian missionaries.

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