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A little less action, a little more conversation please

IMF/World Bank meeting

As delegates and protesters descend on Washington DC for this year's IMF and World Bank annual meetings, nobody is sure quite what to expect. It's certain that the proceedings will be overshadowed by security concerns as never before, though. This time, the familiar risk that protesters will manage to shut the meetings down is joined by the far graver threat of terrorism.

The institutions themselves play down the differences from previous years. The agenda will include the usual subjects for discussion - the state of the international economy, progress on poverty reduction and the heavily indebted poor countries initiative, and efforts to combat international terrorism and money-laundering. The usual round of speeches and seminars will go ahead and many familiar faces will be there.

The protesters look set to be as diverse as ever: NGOs, charities, anarchists, eco-warriors, monks. Mobilization for Global Justice, the umbrella group claiming to be coordinating events, promises interfaith vigils, marches, clean energy rallies and a "quarantine" of the meetings on September 28.

Steve Kretzmann of Mobilization for Global Justice says his organization has a stricter code of non-violence than ever. He refuses to speculate on protester numbers beyond predicting "several thousand", but agrees the atmosphere may be different this year.

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