WTO TO MEET IN QATAR, DESPITE SAFETY CONCERNS

WASHINGTON — Apparently ending speculation about a change in venue, WTO Director-General Mike Moore said Monday he would go ahead with next month’s ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar, despite security concerns.
“If something seismic or catastrophic happens we will reconsider,” said Moore in a statement. “But we’re planning to come here to Doha in just over two weeks time.”
Some trade ministers have been lobbying for a transfer to Singapore, which emerged as an alternative site for the meeting scheduled for Nov. 9-13. They are concerned about safety in the region in the wake of U.S. air strikes on Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia, which refuses to turn over Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks on the U.S.
A change in venue would have been a big blow to the small Persian Gulf nation, which has invested in hotel expansions.
Trade ministers hope to launch a new round of global trade talks in Qatar and are seeking to reach a consensus on an agenda. Trade officials have confirmed that textile tariff reductions will be on the table in a new round of talks.

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