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G-7 Financial Agreement Reached

June 18, 1999

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) _ French President Jacques Chirac said the Group of Seven leaders signed a ``generous″ debt relief agreement Friday.

Chirac called the deal ``a substantial and very important effort″ by the world’s richest nations to forgive debt owed by the poorest.

Citing threats to democracy, poverty, wars and ``misery in many regions of the world ... We in the G-7 must set an example. We need a world that is more secure and more stable.″

He said in recent years, overall aid from most of the Group of Seven nations had steadily dropped, with the exception of France and Japan.

At British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s insistence, text was added whereby private creditors will be invited to also forgive debt, Chirac said. The United States had objected to including the private sector.

Group of Seven leaders also agreed on a new financial architecture meant to prevent future global crises, a German official said.

U.S. President Clinton pressed for quick moves on debt relief, saying he wanted that ``three-quarters of the countries are signed up″ by the end of next year, said Klaus Gretschmann, the chancellor’s economic advisor.

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