The Group of Seven (G7) economic powers were meeting in Japan Saturday to look at overhauling the world's financial system, including the huge sums recycled by organized crime.
Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa was meeting his opposite numbers from the G7, including US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, ahead of afternoon talks at the City Museum in this southern Japanese city.
Saturday's gathering kicks off a hectic round of diplomacy in Japan this month culminating in the July 21st-23rd summit of Group of Eight (G8) leaders on the island of Okinawa, southern Japan.
The G7's discussions at Fukuoka, on Kyushu Island, would focus on five areas, said Summers, who arrived Friday.
"First, the global economic situation and issues of balanced growth," Summers told reporters, indicating a need for Japan to prop up its sagging pillar of the world economy.
"Next is the international financial architecture, particularly pricing and lending policies of the institutions," he added.
Third, "debt relief and poverty reduction, particularly emphasizing the importance of HIV/AIDS and health issues."
Members of the Jubilee 2000 international debt-relief campaign were preparing to march to the City Museum bearing coffins and flowers in a mock wake for the victims of poverty.
The day meanwhile started with a protest by around 30 members of the far-left Zengakuren students group, chanting "Smash the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit," which was outnumbered by police.
Summers added the fourth area of discussion would be "Russia -- assessing the economy, examining Russia's current economic situation."
"And financial crime, focusing on follow-ups to the recent listings of jurisdictions with flawed money-laundering regimes."
Industrial countries forming the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering last month named 15 territories, from Russia to Liechtenstein, considered to be money-laundering havens.
France said it would ask the G7 to penalize the 15 territories and was prepared to end all financial transactions with them, setting the stage for what could be some interesting exchanges on the sidelines of the G7 meeting with the Russians, who are attending the summit as observers.
The G7 nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- would issue a declaration on money-laundering, which is estimated to cost the world economy billions of dollars, officials said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its sister organization, the World Bank, would also feature in a report summing up G7 thinking on their future, the officials said.
Reform of the Washington-based institutions has evolved into a key issue for the elite G7 powers - FUKUOKA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)