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Sunday, May 12, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Globalization's failures highlighted at forum

ROME — The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks destroyed any illusion that rich countries can ignore desperation and poverty elsewhere, the World Bank president said yesterday at the opening of a conference on the weaknesses of globalization.

The first Glocal Forum, whose participants include Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and mayors and business leaders from around the world, is a response to concerns that globalization isn't always meeting local needs.

"The issue of poverty is really the issue of peace," World Bank President James Wolfensohn said. "There is no wall between developed and developing countries."

The conference on "glocalization" — a coinage by the forum's organizers referring to attempts to involve local leaders in global issues — was initiated in part because of former Israeli diplomat Uri Savir's concern that increasing economic integration hasn't been accompanied by peace or stability.

"It comes from my own experience in the Palestinian-Israeli process — that far too little emphasis was given to the issue of how poorer people gain from peace and how you break cultural and psychological barriers between enemies," said Savir, who was involved in negotiating the Oslo accords.

On the sidelines of the three-day meeting, Wolfensohn was expected to meet with Mohammed Rashid, the economics adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Peres gave a media briefing addressing the Mideast conflict, saying he wanted to see a peace conference by June. He would not say whether Israel would welcome participation by Arafat.

The Glocal Forum has scheduled discussions on giving local leaders a role in developing peace, sustaining culture amid global pressures, and reducing the technology lag in poorer nations.

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