Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Metropolitan Christmas Address

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. Dec. 14, 2010 (ACNS) - The Archbishop of the Southwest will release his Christmas Address on the 25th via video on the Metropolitan YouTube Channel. The direct link will be posted when the video is available. The transcript will be available via the ACNS.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Athiests suggest "Reason" during Advent

NEW JERSEY Nov. 28, 2010 (ACNS) - A billboard in New Jersey suggests that the Nativity of Christ was a myth and promotes athiesm instead. It was designed to support efforts to stop the celebration of Christmas.

Read the complete story from Fox News here.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nun harassed by security: TSA more like stormtroopers

HUNTSVILLE Nov. 25, 2010 (ACNS) - With all the reduction in civil rights at the hands of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), it was bound to happen. In was inevitable that the religious would have their rights violated in the name of state security. As this photo captured by a bystander suggests, a nun is being given one of the new obscene and lewd pat-downs by a female TSA officer who appears to be wearing a Muslim headdress.

Photobucket

That this could happen is yet another apparent outrage at the hands (literally) of the TSA. Do we as a national need to be protected from elderly nuns? Do we need to violate the sacred nature of the religious orders all in the name of blind screening and all so we do not have to do the politically correct thing of profiling? How many terrorist attacks will be stopped due to harassment of nuns? Who is next?

Read more below:


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Korean Invasion: Attack on disputed island

Video report on the recent North Korean attacks near the DMZ.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Archbishop visits DMZ in memory of Anglican martyrs in the Korean War

By Anya Johnson

SEOUL Nov. 22, 2010 (ACNS) – Earlier this month, the Archbishop of the Southwest visited the Demilitarized Zone of Korea (DMZ) in honor of the Anglican martyrs who died in the Korean War. The annals of the Korean War are filled with accounts of atrocities committed by the communists in North Korea. Over 30,000 Americans alone died in the war, but that might be considered lucky compared to the treatment typically received by the prisoners of war. Forced marches, torture, shootings, and horrid conditions were just some of the war crimes POWs had to endure at the hands of the North Koreans.
 
A rare view into North Korea

The civilian population was not exempt from their brutality either. North Korean communists pitted village residents against each other, expecting them to inform the authorities about their neighbors’ real or imagined anti-communist activities. Civilians were killed and tortured. It was a time of great fear at the hands of the communists.

It was also a time of great heroism. Many stood against the communist forces, no matter the cost. In Seoul Anglican Cathedral, there is a memorial to six such heroes. They are the Anglican martyrs of the Korean War, Father Lee Won-Chang, Father Yoon Dai-Yong, and Father Cho Yong-Ho from Korea; Father Albert W. Lee and Father Charles Hunt from England, and Sister Mary Clare from Ireland. They kept the faith of the Church during the dark days of the Korean War and were killed for it by the communists.


Abp. Johnson prepares to go into one of
the tunnels built by the North Koreans.
Still to this day the Korean peninsula technically remains at war, as the conflicts of over half a century ago have yet to be resolved. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was formed after the war as a buffer zone between the north and the south. From the south side, you can easily see into the north from many locations. Though people live and work in its midst, it is still a place of great tension and, occasionally, direct confrontation and conflict. Tunnels dug by the North Koreans under the DMZ (at least four that are known) were intended for a surprise attack on Seoul, which is less than an hour’s drive from the North Korean border. The DMZ also has one of the heaviest concentrations of land mines, and each year several people die or are seriously injured from them. 

Still, the DMZ and its surrounding areas remain a place of hope. In some areas, South Koreans and North Koreans are allowed to work side-by-side. Ancient Korean culture and ways of life remain. All that is left is for the fences to come down and the Korean peninsula to be unified as a nation of free people.

More ethical concerns with TSA: Civil rights are no longer safe

Editorial.

CHARLOTTE, NC Nov. 21, 2010 (ACNS) - A recent article by MSNBC raises more ethical concerns about TSA. According to the article, a woman who is a cancer survivor was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a security screening at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. To add irony to the situation, the woman was also a flight attendant.

A prosthesis is a replacement for a body part lost to injury or illness and ought to be treated with as much dignity as the natural part it replaced. It is unlikely that an artificial heart valve would be considered less a part of your body than your original heart valve. Why should it be any different with more external parts? Should a woman who has suffered breast cancer and survived be humiliated by having to show the prosthetic breast? This is as indecent as requiring a natural breast to be shown. This is a gross breech of human decency and ethics on the part of TSA and a violation of civil rights. It should not be tolerated.

The outrage of citizens is understandable and justified. Citizens have a right to protect themselves and be free from unjust, indecent, and unethical practices on the part of the government. Meanwhile, the President of the US acknowledges there are some "frustrations" being experienced, claiming that TSA has informed him that the present procedures are the only ones that can safeguard the country. How many police states in the world have used that as an excuse? Of course, the President does not have to go through these pat downs.

It is time the government starts treating the citizens like human beings and remember that it is the government that works for the people, not the other way around. Anything less, and the government fails to meet the standard for moral conduct and ethical discharge of duty, and that is a violation of the sacred trust the government has with the people.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Live Each Moment video series launched

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. Nov. 20, 2010 (ACNS) - The new inspirational video series, Live Each Moment, was launched today by the Anglo-Catholic Archdiocese of the Southwest. The series features informal homilies given by the Archbishop and is intended to help make every moment in life count. The videos are available on the Archdiocese's YouTube Channel, as well as on the series's own page. The first episode is also shown below.

Live Each Moment
Episode 1: Right and Wrong

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Airport Body Scanners: The controversy continues

WASHINGTON Nov. 18, 2010 (ACNS) - Controversy rages on over the body scanners in place at many airports around the world. The key complaint is over the apparent invasion of privacy, possibility of saving images of you and your complete and intimate bodily details (though this is against the rules), and the potential for unscrupulous TSA agents to make or take copies of the images to be used for nefarious purposes.

Many are questioning whether or not air travel is even worth the hassle anymore. In a time of economic crisis, there is even doubt whether or not these new measures are in the best economic interest of the country.
Many question whether or not air travel is
worth the hassle anymore.
Though the body scanners are claimed to be in place to make air travel safer and combat terrorist threats, many air travellers question their legitimacy. The scanners are in place to catch passengers who, despite rules against carrying explosives, still attempt to carry them on board in violation of the rules. Is there a policy in place to catch TSA agents who are in violation of the rules against taking images of passengers?

The presence of a rule against carrying explosives on an aircraft is not considered sufficient to prevent all passengers from actually carrying explosives. Why, then should the people believe that a mere rule is sufficient to prevent all TSA agents from taking intimate pictures of passengers from body scanners? First ask yourself that question. Then ask whether or not it is time to reign in government agencies that have gotten out of control and are running roughshod over ethics and morality.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cooperation and ethics at the G20 Seoul Summit good news for global development

By Rutherford Johnson

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (ACNS) – The G20 Summit took place in Seoul on Nov. 11 and 12 with a theme of “Shared growth beyond crisis.” The intent of this summit was to continue existing efforts and begin new ones to end the global financial crisis and prevent another such crisis from happening again. The crisis itself was acknowledged by the leaders to be the result of systemic moral atrophy. The leaders decided on an unprecedented level of global cooperation, to include emerging markets and the poorest economies in the world.

Religious leaders around the world urged the heads of government gathered in Seoul for the summit to consider the moral issues at the root of the global financial crisis. Pope Benedict XVI urged cooperation among the leaders in a spirit of respect for humanity, with the goal of the development of mankind. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the summit was an opportunity for the “...world's leaders to reaffirm their moral commitments to the welfare of all.” The response of the summit to the world’s high expectations was the G20 Seoul Summit Leaders Declaration, the Seoul Summit Document, the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth, and the Multi-Year Action Plan on Development, including an Anti-Corruption Action Plan.

The documents produced by the summit leaders and their delegations had a common theme of global cooperation. Improving the job market was placed at the heart of recovery, and financial reforms around the world are intended. There was further a commitment for richer nations to help poorer nations, as well as to strengthen global financial safety nets. They, as representatives of the nations that comprise eighty-five percent of global GDP, recognized their responsibility to the world and promised to hold themselves accountable as leaders.

As part of their efforts to stabilize the world economy and prevent further crises, it was decided to move towards a market-determined exchange rate, with advanced economies having a particular responsibility to guard against excess volatility and disorderly exchange rate movement. This is expected to lessen risks of excess capital volatility in the emerging economies. The poorer countries and emerging markets are especially vulnerable to changes in the world economy and were disproportionately affected by the global financial crisis. The G20’s acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of the world economy and the responsibility of stronger economies to guard against shocks that might lead to a crisis and excessive adverse effects in emerging markets is a positive step towards safeguarding the condition of humanity around the globe, not just in the G20 member states. The G20 leaders committed to “enhance the voice and representation of emerging market and developing countries, including the poorest.”

The challenge that remains is the commitments of governments to the interests of their own people and the promises of governments to other nations and the global community in general. This is a delicate balance. Too far in one direction, and the governments fail to meet their responsibility to their people. Too far in the other direction, and nations act in their own self interest to the detriment of others. It is ultimately an equilibrium position in which the nations act simultaneously in their own best interests and in the best interests of the world that must be found in order to achieve an effective implementation of their plans.

The overall G20 development plan further is committed to free trade and opposition to protectionist policies. Considering that several G20 member states regularly engage in protectionism to varying degrees, it will be interesting to see the outcome of this aspect of the plan. Protectionism is one area in which the interests of the individual state may come in direct conflict with those of the global economy and vice versa.

A significant plan to fight corruption both within each country and across national borders was formed. A key point of this plan is the insistence upon transparency of operations of the G20, governments in general, and the private sector. The G20 has promised to lead by example and also recognizes the essential role of business in combating corruption.

The Seoul Summit Document placed the blame for the 2008 global financial crisis on reckless behavior by financial institution and failures of regulation and oversight. The specific decisions made by the summit leaders tended towards the direction of future moral behavior in the economy, a respect for humanity, and the goal of increased welfare for all. Economics typically defines an efficient economic outcome by Pareto efficiency, in which those who gain money have gained enough that they could, if they wished, compensate those who lost money. The Church, on the other hand, typically does not consider Pareto efficiency to be the final word on economic justice. Those who are leaders of businesses and governments have a duty to those whom their economic, business and financial decisions affect. The Seoul Summit Document recognizes this fact.

Overall, the documents produced by the Seoul Summit recognize the important role of ethics and morality in global financial markets. They present the need of advanced economies to balance their own interests with the interests of the global market. The global financial crisis demonstrated the interrelationship and interdependence of the nations of the world, so such a mutually-beneficial equilibrium of balancing national and global interests must be found for the benefit of humanity.

ACNS Video Report of the G20 Seoul Summit


A video summarizing the outcome of the G20 Seoul Summit.




Some believe new airport procedures resemble Nazi tactics

WASHINGTON (ACNS) – New pat down procedures at airports are leaving many passengers feeling like criminals. Some liken this approach to the Nazis and wonder what is becoming of personal freedom in America.

Examinations involve touching of the breasts and genitals with a more intense touch than before. Where available, however, passengers may be able to use a body scanner. Passengers are subjected to this treatment when they set off a metal detector or there is another screening anomaly. "Too much change in your pocket is not a reason to be treated like a criminal," one frequent flyer commented.

Read more on this important issue by following the links below and find out ways you can help.

Airport pat-downs provoking backlash
Pat downs on plane trips irritate pilots, passengers
Pilot refuses full-body scan at Tenn. airport

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Interview with Archbishop Johnson about the G20

SEOUL, Nov. 13, 2010 (ACNS)  The following is an interview with Archbishop Dr. Rutherford Johnson to get his take on the G20 Seoul Summit and his opinions on its potential impact on the global economy and the lives of the people around the world. Johnson has a PhD in economics. He attended the G20 with the Anglo-Catholic News Service as part of a small number accredited to observe and cover the event. A good portion of his work centers on the relationship between faith and the economy, especially regarding ethics and morality, and he had a significant interest in seeing how the G20 would respond to ethical concerns as they seek to move forward past the global financial crisis.


 Archbishop Johnson arrives in the auditorium
for the final briefing by the President of Korea,
President of the United States, and the
Prime Minister of Canada.
  
ACNS: How was the summit?

Johnson: It was very enjoyable. There were also many events surrounding the actual summit, and they were all very informative and exciting.

ACNS: Any of those side events interesting in particular?

Johnson: The visit to Korea’s Demilitarized Zone was a poignant reminder that this peninsula is still at war. It shows the need for unity and joint effort, even in the face of a crisis, which follows from the summit theme of “shared growth following crisis.”

ACNS: What about the Korean people? What did they do for the G20?

Johnson: Everything! The Koreans don’t just do something, they do it all the way and then some. Everyone from the President of Korea’s committee for the G20 to business, restaurants, and regular citizens seemed to be caught up in G20 fever. They really did put on a good show, and they have certainly come a very long way from the ashes of the Korean War.

ACNS: That’s good to hear. Now, you’re a priest. What’s so interesting about a global economic conference to a priest?

Johnson: The church is in this world and not of this world. As such, we are not directly concerned with politics. However, we must not forget the part about being in the world. The church has a duty to work for the betterment of the lives of humanity. As such, the actions of governments and the economic situation in the world are very much of interest to the church from the standpoint of ethics, morality, and the condition of mankind.

ACNS: You also have a PhD in economics and have published papers in this field, including on the global financial crisis, correct?

Johnson: Yes, that is true. I am particularly interested in the issues of ethics and morality in economics, and this fits rather nicely with the remarks of Korean President Lee Myung-Bok regarding the G20’s plans for reducing corruption.

ACNS: What’s your take on the G20’s Seoul Declaration?

Johnson: Overall I liked what I heard President Lee say on Friday afternoon. The commitment to cooperation is in keeping with Christ’s desire that the peoples of the world should seek unity and brotherhood. The Seoul Summit Document is quite lengthy, so I don’t think I have time to discuss the whole thing here. However, the real key to making what they say a success is whether or not they really will follow through.

ACNS: What do you mean?

Johnson: It’s one thing to come together with your counterparts from around the world, sit around a table, and say you think something is a good idea. It’s perfectly normal for there to be many emotions in play, and everyone likely truly means what they say. The trouble comes when one tries to implement a plan, especially at the national and international levels. First, there are the usual issues of practicability. Also, true international cooperation requires significant cooperation within each nation as well. If the G20 leaders can achieve that, then they have a good chance to achieve their plan. I obviously hope they can.

ACNS: Are you going to write an article about the Seoul Summit Document?

Johnson: I’m planning on it. Like I said, it is very lengthy. I received it just as it became available, and I haven’t had much time to digest all the details. It is my plan, though, to give a bit of faith-based economic analysis of what this means from the Christian perspective.

ACNS: We’re looking forward to it!  Lastly, what do you think about this being the Anglo-Catholic News Service’s first direct coverage of a major world event?

Johnson: I am absolutely thrilled, and I believe it signals great things to come. The ACNS was founded to give a conservative Anglican Rite presence in news media and report on events around the world that are of interest to Christians. The participation of several members of the ACNS in the G20 was a most significant achievement in that regard. I also want to thank Coberly Communications and Yonhap News Agency for their invaluable media support in making this happen.

ACNS: Yes, you’re right. We really appreciate their help. Did you have time to promote the ACNS while you were there?

Johnson: I did indeed. Among others, I had a nice long chat with a representative of Caritas. It is so important that religious news services be present at major world events. Keep up the good work!

ACNS: Thanks again! And, thank you for taking time to speak with us. We’re looking forward to seeing your analysis of the Seoul Summit Document soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

G-20 agrees to make current account guidelines by next June

via Yonhap, Seoul, Korea
 
Leaders of the world's 20 major economies agreed Friday to formulate "indicative guidelines" for current account imbalances by the first half of next year, paving the way for defusing one of the most contentious issues facing the global economy.


The President of Korea
Credit: Yonhap NA
 
 
The world leaders also agreed to seek more market-determined exchange rate systems, enhance exchange rate flexibility and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies as they wrapped up two days of summit talks in Seoul, the first G-20 summit in Asia.
 
Should the agreement be "implemented as agreed, it will contribute greatly to preventing a future global economic crisis. We all have to cooperate for this," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said at a press conference at COEX in southern Seoul.
 
It was the fifth meeting of the G-20 leaders since they first met in late 2008 to discuss joint responses to the crisis that was rocking the world economy at the time. The G-20, which includes major industrialized and emerging nations, accounts for about 85 percent of the global economy.
 
This week's summit came amid a currency row between the United States and China as Washington has mounted pressure on Beijing to stop keeping its currency, the yuan, artificially low, which makes Chinese goods cheaper. The U.S. claims the Chinese currency policy has worsened global trade and current account imbalances.
 
Complicating the dispute was the Federal Reserve's move to inject $600 billion into the U.S. economy to lower long-term interest rates in an effort to spur growth. The move has raised the eyebrows of some countries, including China, Germany and Brazil, which believe lower U.S. interest rates will lead to the values of their currencies rising and hurt their exports.
 
In an attempt to resolve the disputes, the G-20 countries discussed limiting current account surpluses or deficits for balanced growth. But differences were too wide to produce a specific deal on how to limit imbalances, and the countries settled for agreeing to formulate "indicative guidelines" by the first half of 2011.
 
"These indicative guidelines composed of a range of indicators would serve as a mechanism to facilitate timely identification of large imbalances that require preventive and corrective actions to be taken," the summit declaration said.
 
South Korean President Lee hailed the agreement as "remarkable progress."
 
"For now, in conclusion, (the world) is out of the so-called currency war," he told the conference.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the agreement, saying that the world's 20 major economies are "in broad agreement on the way forward."
 
But Obama increased pressure on China, urging the country to raise the yuan's value.
 
"The issue of China's RMB is 'irritant' not only to us, but also to a lot of China's trading partners," he said at a press conference.
 
Other agreements reached at the summit include modernizing the International Monetary Fund, strengthening global financial safety nets and pledging to help and work together with low-income nations for balanced and shared growth.
 
The global financial safety net and development issues are known as "Korea Initiative" as South Korea pushed for them as chair of the summit, building on its experience of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis that forced Seoul to seek a humiliating bailout fund, and its rise from the ashes of the Korean War to one of the world's largest economies.
 
The endorsement of the Korea Initiative by the G-20 leaders highlighted Seoul's role as a bridge between developed and emerging nations as it had to convince the G-20 and other developed nations why they should agree to relatively reduced coverage from the IMF.
 
On balanced development, South Korea helped identify nine key issues ranging from infrastructure and human resources development to trade, food security and job creation to help low-income nations. The G-20 leaders at the Seoul summit wholly approved the development agenda.
 
"We will continue to monitor and assess ongoing implementation of the commitments made today and in the past in a transparent and objective way," the leaders said in the declaration. "We hold ourselves accountable. What we promise, we will deliver."
 
The leaders also said that the "actions agreed upon today will help to further strengthen the global economy, accelerate job creation, ensure more stable financial markets, narrow the development gap and promote broadly shared growth beyond crisis."
 
In the run-up to the summit, vice finance ministers and personal representatives of the leaders, dubbed the "Sherpa" group, haggled for days over the current account guideline proposal, underscoring the difficulty of dealing with the sensitive issue.
 
After South Korean President Lee urged other leaders to make concessions at their working dinner Thursday night, envoys from the 20 members resumed the stalled negotiations later that night and had intensive discussions that went into early Friday morning.
 
On the sidelines of the G-20 meeting, South Korea had a series of high-stakes bilateral summits with the U.S. to discuss a pending free trade agreement (FTA), and with France to seek the return of ancient Korean royal texts seized in the 19th century.
 
Both Seoul and Washington had hoped to reach a final agreement on their FTA deal signed more than three years ago this week, but the last-minute negotiations broke off over U.S. demands for more concessions on auto and beef issues.
 
Obama said Friday that he is not interested in reaching a deal for the sake of "announcement" and that an agreement should be good for both sides, adding that he believes the two countries can reach a "win-win" agreement in the near future.
 
South Korea, however, produced progress in talks with France over the royal texts.
 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday his government will return Korean royal Uigwe books to Seoul on a five-year renewable lease scheme, after Seoul has sought the books' return for decades.
 
"I believe the time has come to settle this," Sarkozy told reporters. "I know that for Koreans, these documents are very much a part of Korean heritage."
 
The Uigwe books from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) were looted by French troops in 1866 when they invaded a Korean island in retaliation against its persecution of French Catholic missionaries.
 
The summit brought together about 4,000 officials from the 20 member economies, including such top leaders as Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
 
In addition, the leaders of Spain and four other invited nations as well as top representatives of the U.N. and other international organizations attended the summit.
 
jschang@yna.co.kr

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Full text of G-20 Seoul Summit Leaders' Declaration

by Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea
 
The following is the full text (through part 20) of a the G-20 Seoul Summit Leaders' Declaration released Friday following a two-day meeting of the leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging countries.
 


Credit: Yonhap NA
  
1. We, the Leaders of the G20, are united in our conviction that by working together we can secure a more prosperous future for the citizens of all countries.
 

 
2. When we first gathered in November 2008 to address the most severe world recession our generation has ever confronted, we pledged to support and stabilize the global economy, and at the same time, to lay the foundation for reform, to ensure the world would never face such upheaval again.
 

 
3. Over the past four Summits, we have worked with unprecedented cooperation to break the dramatic fall in the global economy to establish the basis for recovery and renewed growth.
 

 
4. The concrete steps we have taken will help ensure we are better prepared to prevent and, if necessary, to withstand future crises. We pledge to continue our coordinated efforts and act together to generate strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
 

 
5. We recognize the importance of addressing the concerns of the most vulnerable. To this end, we are determined to put jobs at the heart of the recovery, to provide social protection, decent work and also to ensure accelerated growth in low income countries (LICs).
 

 
6. Our relentless and cooperative efforts over the last two years have delivered strong results. However, we must stay vigilant.
 


Credit: Yonhap NA
  
7. Risks remain. Some of us are experiencing strong growth, while others face high levels of unemployment and sluggish recovery. Uneven growth and widening imbalances are fueling the temptation to diverge from global solutions into uncoordinated actions. However, uncoordinated policy actions will only lead to worse outcomes for all.
 

 
8. Since 2008, a common view of the challenges of the world economy, the necessary responses and our determination to resist protectionism has enabled us to both address the root causes of the crisis and safeguard the recovery. We are agreed today to develop our common view to meet these new challenges and a path to strong, sustainable and balanced growth beyond the crisis.
 

 
9. Today, the Seoul Summit delivers:
 

 
-- the Seoul Action Plan composed of comprehensive, cooperative and country-specific policy actions to move closer to our shared objective. The Plan includes our commitment to:
 

 
-- undertake macroeconomic policies, including fiscal consolidation where necessary, to ensure ongoing recovery and sustainable growth and enhance the stability of financial markets, in particular moving toward more market-determined exchange rate systems, enhancing exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying economic fundamentals, and refraining from competitive devaluation of currencies. Advanced economies, including those with reserve currencies, will be vigilant against excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates. These actions will help mitigate the risk of excessive volatility in capital flows facing some emerging countries;
 

 
-- implement a range of structural reforms that boost and sustain global demand, foster job creation, and increase the potential for growth; and
 

 
-- enhance the Mutual Assessment Process (MAP) to promote external sustainability. We will strengthen multilateral cooperation to promote external sustainability and pursue the full range of policies conducive to reducing excessive imbalances and maintaining current account imbalances at sustainable levels. Persistently large imbalances, assessed against indicative guidelines to be agreed by our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, warrant an assessment of their nature and the root causes of impediments to adjustment as part of the MAP, recognizing the need to take into account national or regional circumstances, including large commodity producers. These indicative guidelines composed of a range of indicators would serve as a mechanism to facilitate timely identification of large imbalances that require preventive and corrective actions to be taken. To support our efforts toward meeting these commitments, we call on our Framework Working Group, with technical support from the IMF and other international organizations, to develop these indicative guidelines, with progress to be discussed by our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the first half of 2011; and, in Gyeongju, our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors called on the IMF to provide an assessment as part of the MAP on the progress toward external sustainability and the consistency of fiscal, monetary, financial sector, structural, exchange rate and other policies. In light of this, the first such assessment, to be based on the above mentioned indicative guidelines, will be initiated and undertaken in due course under the French Presidency.
 

 
-- a modernized IMF that better reflects the changes in the world economy through greater representation of dynamic emerging markets and developing countries. These comprehensive quota and governance reforms, as outlined in the Seoul Summit Document, will enhance the IMF's legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness, making it an even stronger institution for promoting global financial stability and growth.
 

 
-- instruments to strengthen global financial safety nets, which help countries cope with financial volatility by providing them with practical tools to overcome sudden reversals of international capital flows.
 

 
-- core elements of a new financial regulatory framework, including bank capital and liquidity standards, as well as measures to better regulate and effectively resolve systemically important financial institutions, complemented by more effective oversight and supervision. This new framework, complemented by other achievements as outlined in the Seoul Summit Document, will ensure a more resilient financial system by reining in the past excesses of the financial sector and better serving the needs of our economies.
 

 
-- the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth that sets out our commitment to work in partnership with other developing countries, and LICs in particular, to help them build the capacity to achieve and maximize their growth potential, thereby contributing to global rebalancing. The Seoul Consensus complements our commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and focuses on concrete measures as summarized in our Multi-Year Action Plan on Development to make a tangible and significant difference in people's lives, including in particular through the development of infrastructure in developing countries.
 

 
-- the Financial Inclusion Action Plan, the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion and a flexible SME Finance Framework, all of which will significantly contribute to improving access to financial services and expanding opportunities for poor households and small and medium enterprises.
 

 
-- our strong commitment to direct our negotiators to engage in across-the-board negotiations to promptly bring the Doha Development Round to a successful, ambitious, comprehensive, and balanced conclusion consistent with the mandate of the Doha Development Round and built on the progress already achieved. We recognize that 2011 is a critical window of opportunity, albeit narrow, and that engagement among our representatives must intensify and expand. We now need to complete the end game. Once such an outcome is reached, we commit to seek ratification, where necessary, in our respective systems. We are also committed to resisting all forms of protectionist measures.
 

 
10. We will continue to monitor and assess ongoing implementation of the commitments made today and in the past in a transparent and objective way. We hold ourselves accountable. What we promise, we will deliver.
 

 
11. Building on our achievements to date, we have agreed to work further on macro-prudential policy frameworks; better reflect the perspective of emerging market economies in financial regulatory reforms; strengthen regulation and oversight of shadow banking; further work on regulation and supervision of commodity derivatives markets; improve market integrity and efficiency; enhance consumer protection; pursue all outstanding governance reform issues at the IMF and World Bank; and build a more stable and resilient international monetary system, including by further strengthening global financial safety nets. We will also expand our MAP based on the indicative guidelines to be agreed.
 

 
12. To promote resilience, job creation and mitigate risks for development, we will prioritize action under the Seoul Consensus on addressing critical bottlenecks, including infrastructure deficits, food market volatility, and exclusion from financial services.
 

 
13. To provide broader, forward-looking leadership in the post-crisis economy, we will also continue our work to prevent and tackle corruption through our Anti-Corruption Action Plan; rationalize and phase-out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies; mitigate excessive fossil fuel price volatility; safeguard the global marine environment; and combat the challenges of global climate change.
 

 
14. We reaffirm our resolute commitment to fight climate change, as reflected in the Leaders' Seoul Summit Document. We appreciate President Felipe Calderon's briefing on the status of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, as well as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's briefing on the report of the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing submitted to the UN Secretary-General. We will spare no effort to reach a balanced and successful outcome in Cancun.
 

 
15. We welcome the Fourth UN LDC Summit in Turkey and the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea, both to be held in 2011.
 

 
16. Recognizing the importance of private sector-led growth and job creation, we welcome the Seoul G20 Business Summit and look forward to continuing the G20 Business Summit in upcoming Summits.
 

 
17. The actions agreed today will help to further strengthen the global economy, accelerate job creation, ensure more stable financial markets, narrow the development gap and promote broadly shared growth beyond crisis.
 

 
18. We look forward to our next meeting in 2011 in France, and subsequent meeting in 2012 in Mexico.
 

 
19. We thank Korea for its G20 Presidency and for hosting the successful Seoul Summit.
 

 
20. The Seoul Summit Document, which we have agreed, follows.
 

 
THE SEOUL SUMMIT DOCUMENT
 

 
Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth
 

 
1. Our unprecedented and highly coordinated fiscal and monetary stimulus worked to bring back the global economy from the edge of a depression. This has highlighted that the world would benefit from more effective international cooperation. In Pittsburgh, we launched the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth and committed to work together to assess the collective implications of our national policies on global growth and development, identify potential risks to the global economy, and take additional actions to achieve our shared objectives.
 

 
2. Since then, we have made important progress through our country-led, consultative Mutual Assessment Process (MAP) of the Framework:
 

 
-- Supportive economic policies have been put in place to promote ongoing recovery and job creation;
 
-- Explicit commitments have been made to put public finances on a sustainable track;
 
-- Strong measures have been adopted and are being implemented to safeguard the stability of our financial system;
 
-- Important structural reforms have been launched and/or planned to boost global demand and potential growth; and
 
-- Significant steps have been taken to strengthen the capacity of international financial institutions (IFIs) in support of development.
 

 
3. Since we last met, the global recovery continues to advance, but downside risks remain. We are resolved to do more. Our strengthened collaborative and collective policy actions can further safeguard the recovery and lay a solid foundation for our shared objectives of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
 

 
The Seoul Action Plan
 

 
4. Today we are launching the Seoul Action Plan. We shaped the Plan with unity of purpose to:
 

 
-- ensure an unwavering commitment to cooperation;
 

 
-- outline an action-oriented plan with each member's concrete policy commitments; and
 

 
-- deliver on all three objectives of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
 

 
5. Specifically, we commit to actions in five policy areas with details of specific commitments by G20 members set out in the Supporting Document.
 

 
6. Monetary and Exchange Rate Policies: We reaffirm the importance of central banks' commitment to price stability, thereby contributing to the recovery and sustainable growth. We will move toward more market-determined exchange rate systems and enhance exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying economic fundamentals and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies. Advanced economies, including those with reserve currencies, will be vigilant against excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates. Together these actions will help mitigate the risk of excessive volatility in capital flows facing some emerging market economies. Nonetheless, in circumstances where countries are facing undue burden of adjustment, policy responses in emerging market economies with adequate reserves and increasingly overvalued flexible exchange rates may also include carefully designed macro-prudential measures. We will reinvigorate our efforts to promote a stable and well functioning international monetary system and call on the IMF to deepen its work in these areas.
 

 
7. Trade and Development Policies: We reaffirm our commitment to free trade and investment recognizing its central importance for the global recovery. We will refrain from introducing, and oppose protectionist trade actions in all forms and recognize the importance of a prompt conclusion of the Doha negotiations. We reaffirm our commitment to avoid financial protectionism and are mindful of the risks of proliferation of measures that would damage investment and harm prospects for the global recovery. With developing countries' rising share in world output and trade, the goals of global growth, rebalancing and development are increasingly interlinked. We will focus efforts to resolve the most significant bottlenecks to inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth in developing countries, low-income countries (LICs) in particular: infrastructure, human resources development, trade, private investment and job creation, food security, growth with resilience, financial inclusion, domestic resource mobilization and knowledge sharing. In addition, we will take concrete actions to increase our financial and technical support, including fulfilling the Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments by advanced countries.
 

 
8. Fiscal Policies: Advanced economies will formulate and implement clear, credible, ambitious and growth-friendly medium-term fiscal consolidation plans in line with the Toronto commitment, differentiated according to national circumstances. We are mindful of the risk of synchronized adjustment on the global recovery and of the risk that failure to implement consolidation, where immediately necessary, would undermine confidence and growth.
 

 
9. Financial Reforms: We are committed to take action at the national and international level to raise standards, and ensure that our national authorities implement global standards developed to date, consistently, in a way that ensures a level playing field, a race to the top and avoids fragmentation of markets, protectionism and regulatory arbitrage. In particular, we will implement fully the new bank capital and liquidity standards and address too-big-to-fail problems. We agreed to further work on financial regulatory reforms.
 

 
10. Structural Reforms: We will implement a range of structural reforms to boost and sustain global demand, foster job creation, contribute to global rebalancing, and increase our growth potential, and where needed undertake:
 

 
-- Product market reforms to simplify regulation and reduce regulatory barriers in order to promote competition and enhance productivity in key sectors.
 

 
-- Labor market and human resource development reforms, including better targeted benefits schemes to increase participation; education and training to increase employment in quality jobs, boost productivity and thereby enhance potential growth.
 

 
-- Tax reform to enhance productivity by removing distortions and improving the incentives to work, invest and innovate.
 

 
-- Green growth and innovation oriented policy measures to find new sources of growth and promote sustainable development.
 

 
-- Reforms to reduce the reliance on external demand and focus more on domestic sources of growth in surplus countries while promoting higher national savings and enhancing export competitiveness in deficit countries.
 

 
-- Reforms to strengthen social safety nets such as public health care and pension plans, corporate governance and financial market development to help reduce precautionary savings in emerging surplus countries.
 

 
--Investment in infrastructure to address bottlenecks and enhance growth potential.
 

 
In pursuing these reforms, we will draw on the expertise of the OECD, IMF, World Bank, ILO and other international organizations.
 

 
11. MAP beyond the Seoul Summit: In addition, we will enhance the MAP to promote external sustainability. We will strengthen multilateral cooperation to promote external sustainability and pursue the full range of policies conducive to reducing excessive imbalances and maintaining current account imbalances at sustainable levels. Persistently large imbalances, assessed against indicative guidelines to be agreed by our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, warrant an assessment of their nature and the root causes of impediments to adjustment as part of the MAP, recognizing the need to take into account national or regional circumstances, including large commodity producers. These indicative guidelines composed of a range of indicators would serve as a mechanism to facilitate timely identification of large imbalances that require preventive and corrective actions to be taken. To support our efforts toward meeting these commitments, we call on our Framework Working Group, with technical support from the IMF and other international organizations, to develop these indicative guidelines, with progress to be discussed by our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the first half of 2011; and, in Gyeongju, our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors called on the IMF to provide an assessment as part of the MAP on the progress toward external sustainability and the consistency of fiscal, monetary, financial sector, structural, exchange rate and other policies. In light of this, the first such assessment, to be based on the above mentioned indicative guidelines, will be initiated and undertaken in due course under the French Presidency.
 

 
12. We have a shared responsibility. Members with sustained, significant external deficits pledge to undertake policies to support private savings and where appropriate undertake fiscal consolidation while maintaining open markets and strengthening export sectors. Members with sustained, significant external surpluses pledge to strengthen domestic sources of growth.
 

 
13. Recognizing the benefits of the Framework, we agreed to expand and refine the country-led, consultative MAP by including monitoring of the implementation of our commitments and assessment of our progress toward achieving our shared objectives. This process will be adopted in 2011 under the French Presidency.
 

 
International Financial Institution Reforms
 

 
14. When the world was in the middle of the global financial crisis, we met and agreed to provide the IFIs with the resources they needed to support the global economy. With our agreements to increase their resources substantially and endorse new lending instruments, the IFIs mobilized critical financing, including more than $750 billion by the IMF and $235 billion by the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). Financial markets stabilized and the global economy started to recover. Even in the midst of the crisis, we knew that further reforms of the IFIs were required.
 

 
15. We committed to modernize the institutions fundamentally so that they better reflect changes in the world economy and can more effectively play their roles in promoting global financial stability, fostering development and improving the lives of the poorest. In June 2010, we welcomed the reforms to increase the voting power of developing and transition countries at the World Bank. We also remained committed to strengthening the legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness of the IMF through quota and governance reforms.
 

 
Modernized IMF governance
 

 
16. Today, we welcomed the ambitious achievements by the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors at the Gyeongju meeting, and subsequent decision by the IMF, on a comprehensive package of IMF quota and governance reforms. The reforms are an important step toward a more legitimate, credible and effective IMF, by ensuring that quotas and Executive Board composition are more reflective of new global economic realities, and securing the IMF's status as a quota-based institution, with sufficient resources to support members' needs. Consistent with our commitments at the Pittsburgh and Toronto Summits, and going even further in a number of areas, the reforms include:
 

 
-- Shifts in quota shares to dynamic emerging market and developing countries and to under-represented countries of over 6%, while protecting the voting share of the poorest, which we commit to work to complete by the Annual Meetings in 2012.
 

 
-- A doubling of quotas, with a corresponding rollback of the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) preserving relative shares, when the quota increase becomes effective.
 

 
-- Continuing the dynamic process aimed at enhancing the voice and representation of emerging market and developing countries, including the poorest, through a comprehensive review of the quota formula by January 2013 to better reflect the economic weights; and through completion of the next general review of quotas by January 2014.
 

 
-- Greater representation for emerging market and developing countries at the Executive Board through two fewer advanced European chairs, and the possibility of a second alternate for all multi-country constituencies.
 

 
-- Moving to an all-elected Board, along with a commitment by the IMF's membership to maintain the Board size at 24 chairs, and following the completion of the 14th General Review, a review of the Board's composition every eight years.
 

 
17. We reiterate the urgency of promptly concluding the 2008 IMF Quota and Voice Reforms. We urge all G20 members participating in the expanded NAB to accelerate their procedures in completing the acceptance process. We ask the IMF to report on the progress, in accordance with agreed timelines, toward effective implementation of the 2010 quota and governance reforms to our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors at their periodic G20 meetings.
 

 
18. When combined with the already agreed voice reform of the World Bank, these represent significant achievements in modernizing our key IFIs. They will be even stronger players in promoting global financial stability and growth. We asked our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to continue to pursue all outstanding governance reform issues at the World Bank and the IMF.
 

 
Surveillance
 

 
19. We recognize the importance of continuing the work on reforming the IMF's mission and mandate, including strengthening surveillance.
 

 
20. IMF surveillance should be enhanced to focus on systemic risks and vulnerabilities wherever they may lie. To this extent, we welcome the decision made by the IMF to make financial stability assessments under the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) a regular and mandatory part of Article IV consultation for members with systemically important financial sectors. We call on the IMF to make further progress in modernizing the IMF's surveillance mandate and modalities. These should involve, in particular: strengthening bilateral and multilateral work on surveillance covering financial stability, macroeconomic, structural and exchange rate policies, with increased focus on systemic issues; enhancing synergies between surveillance tools; helping members to strengthen their surveillance capacity; and ensuring even-handedness, candor, and independence of surveillance. We welcome the IMF's work to conduct spillover assessments of the wider impact of systemic economies' policies.


Energy executives share views on greater cooperation

by Nam Kwang-sik

via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea
 
Top executives of domestic and foreign energy companies met in Seoul Friday to seek further cooperation and discuss ways for finding new growth engines, SK Energy Co. said.
 
During the meeting hosted by the top refiner in South Korea, participants shared the view that global energy market conditions will improve next year, though the global economic outlook is still uncertain, the company said.

Koo Ja-young, president of SK Energy, stressed the need to boost cooperation with Repsol YPF, Spain's largest oil company, in the construction of its fourth lubricant plant.
 

Credit: Yonhap NA

SK Lubricants Co., a unit of SK Energy, is pushing to build the lubricant plant with a daily production capacity of 13,300 barrels, in Cartagena, southeast of Spain, jointly with Repsol. The completion is set for sometime in 2013.
 
Koo also exchanged views with Woodside, Australia's largest energy company, on ways to join hands in large-scale liquefied natural gas projects, SK Energy said.
 
Participants included Woodside CEO Donald Voelte; Arturo Gonzalo, an executive of Repsol; and Sanjeev Verma, executive of India's state-run Indian Oil, SK Energy said.
 
The foreign executives are among the 120 business leaders from around the world who attended a two-day global CEO summit that ended in Seoul on Thursday ahead of the G-20 summit.
 
 
ksnam@yna.co.kr

World lanterns to lighten up Seoul for one more week

via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea 
 
The Seoul Metropolitan Government will extend its annual world lantern festival for one more week due to its popularity among foreign tourists and local residents, city officials said Friday.
 
The Seoul Lantern Festival 2010 opened a week ago, timed to coincide with this week's summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Seoul. About 27,000 traditional and creative lanterns from 24 countries, including the G-20 nations, are on display along the Cheonggyecheon Stream running through the heart of the city center. The event was originally planned to end this Sunday.
 
"We decided to extend the event till Sunday next week to provide more attractions to foreign tourists coming to visit the capital and local residents," said Ahn Seung-il, a senior city official in charge of planning tourism programs. "It has been drawing positive response from citizens and foreign tourists."
 
About 500,000 people visited the stream in the first week of opening, city officials said, expecting the number of visitors to surpass one million this weekend.
 
Traditional lanterns from 24 countries, including Japan, China, New Zealand and Thailand, are especially popular to tourists for their splendid sizes and colors, the officials said.
 
Also drawing attention is a special, 3-meter-high lantern tower made of 2,000 smaller lanterns "to wish for the successful hosting of the G-20 summit," they said.
 
The city authority will place more security guards around the venue of the festival to keep it safe from possible incidents during the extended period, they added.
 

 
sshim@yna.co.kr

Box of fruit addressed to Obama wreaks havoc at post office

via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea
 
One citizen seems to have taken the government's call to give a warm welcome to the G-20 summit's foreign participants quite literally.
 
Two days ahead of Thursday's start of the summit, employees at a post office in southern Seoul received a parcel addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama's youngest daughter, Sasha. The box was intended for delivery to the G-20's main conference venue.
 
Staff at the post office, on high alert for terrorist threats since last month, immediately investigated the contents of the box. X-ray results showed about 15 round objects that looked like fruit, but no sign of an explosive.
 
Still unassured, the staff called in a SWAT team and a sniffer dog, but the parcel was later found to contain Asian pears.
 
The gift was returned to its 70-something-year-old sender in the southern port city of Busan the same day. He is known to have previously sent fruit to former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in a similar way.
 
The post office declined to comment on the parcel or the reason for its return.
 
hague@yna.co.kr

G-20 leaders head into high-stakes summit amid row over currency, trade imbalances

via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea
 
(ATTN: UPDATES in paras 2-4 with comments from S. Korean president, government source)
 
World leaders headed into a high-stakes economic meeting Friday to make a final push for compromise on an intensifying dispute over currency and trade, and discuss other steps to underpin the fragile global economic recovery as Asia's first G-20 summit took off in Seoul.
 
The meeting came just hours after envoys from the world's 20 major economies wrapped up last-minute, overnight negotiations to narrow wide differences over how to manage currencies and trade imbalances in an effort to draft a joint declaration to be issued after the summit.
 
"There has been big progress" in the negotiations, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said at the start of the first session of the leaders' meeting held at COEX in southern Seoul. Lee did not elaborate on what the progress was.
 
A South Korean government source said that the negotiators came close to agreement to seek "more market-determined exchange rate systems," increase flexibility of their currencies and to create a guideline on sustainable current account imbalances by the next meeting in France.
 
 
 
At a working dinner Thursday, Lee urged other leaders to make concessions to reach compromise over the currency and trade imbalance issues, stressing the need for greater policy coordination to spur economic growth, South Korean spokesman Kim Yoon-kyung said.
 
"So far, the G-20 has achieved great results through international coordination, and now is the time for us to strengthen it without losing the sense of urgency," Lee was quoted as saying at the dinner. "I would appreciate it if the leaders of each country made concessions."
 
Other leaders shared an understanding that they need to strengthen cooperation, Kim said.
 
Negotiators from the countries resumed stalled talks late Thursday night and "had a lot of discussions through 3 a.m.," the spokesman said, declining to give any more details, including whether there was a deal.
 
It is the fifth meeting of the G-20 leaders since they first met in late 2008 to discuss joint responses to the crisis that was rocking the world economy at the time. The G-20, which includes major industrialized and emerging nations, accounts for about 85 percent of the global economy.
 
South Korea is the first Asian nation to host a G-20 summit.
 
This week's summit came amid a currency row between the United States and China as Washington has mounted pressure on Beijing to stop keeping its currency, the yuan, artificially low, which makes Chinese goods cheaper. The U.S. claims the Chinese currency policy has worsened global trade and current account imbalances.
 
Complicating the dispute was the Federal Reserve's move to inject $600 billion into the U.S. economy to lower long-term interest rates in an effort to spur growth. The move has raised the eyebrows of some countries, such as China, Germany and Brazil, which believe lower U.S. interest rates will lead to the values of their currencies rising and hurt their exports.
 
Last month, the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 nations agreed to seek market-determined foreign exchange rates and refrain from competitive devaluation of their currencies. They also agreed to seek every possible policy to keep current account imbalances at a sustainable level.
 
South Korea, as chair of the summit, has hoped to flesh out that deal at this gathering, such as creating a guideline for sustainable current account imbalances by requiring countries to limit surpluses or deficits to a certain proportion of their gross domestic products.
 
In the run-up to the summit, vice finance ministers and personal representatives of the leaders, dubbed the "Sherpa" group, haggled for days over the current account guideline proposal, but failed to find a compromise, underscoring the difficulty of dealing with the sensitive issue.
 
After the series of sessions, the leaders plan to adopt a joint declaration to summarize their discussions and include whatever agreements are made. South Korean President Lee, as chair of the meetings, will later hold a press conference to announce the statement.
 
Unless there is a breakthrough, officials said that the leaders could settle for simply calling for defusing the standoff before they meet again in France next year or making general recommendations to reduce excessive imbalances.
 
The declaration is also expected to support what is known as the "Korea Initiative," which combines the establishment of a global financial safety net with the issue of balanced development.
 
Other measures likely to go into the declaration include universal calls for a "standstill" on all forms of protectionist measures and support for carrying out reforms in the International Monetary Fund as well as introducing financial sector restrictions.
 
Seoul is also pushing to incorporate a pledge by G-20 members to expand support for developing countries and fuel a drive to fight corruption that has been cited for holding up progress in the world's poorest countries.
 
The summit brought together about 4,000 officials from the 20 member economies, including top leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
 
In addition, the leaders of Spain and four other invited nations as well as top representatives of the U.N. and other international organizations attended the summit.
 
jschang@yna.co.kr

Al Jazeera reporter denied access to G-20 Seoul summit

by Kim Hyun
 
via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea
 
A reporter from Al Jazeera, a major Arabic-language news network, said Friday that he was denied entry to the venue of the G-20 summit in Seoul and claimed the denial may have been for political reasons.
 
Fadi Salameh, a Syrian-born reporter now based in Tokyo, was told he was not allowed to cover the summit when he went to pick up his press pass on Thursday at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX), the venue of the global forum.
 
"I got the affirmation email for my registration," Salameh, now staying at a hotel in southern Seoul, said over the phone. "I got my visa, a C1 journalist visa, very smoothly, and there was no problem about entering the country."
 
Salameh said a security official told him he was denied entry because of his past record of unauthorized access to a Northeast Asian summit in late May. He had entered the summit venue of the South Korea-Japan-China summit without a proper press ID, which security later discovered on his way out.
 
"I had missed the deadline for applying for an ID card. But they let me in anyway," he said.
 
But the Syrian reporter believes the access denial has to do with political reasons. In the Jeju summit in May, his main interest was getting Chinese reactions to the sinking of a South Korean ship earlier that month blamed on North Korea. Salameh claims the way he covered the ship sinking story must have irritated the South Korean security authorities.
 
A South Korean-led international investigation had concluded that North Korea attacked the Cheonan with a torpedo, killing 46 South Korean sailors. North Korea denies any involvement.
 
"A journalist has to take a neutral stance," he said. "I think the whole problem was with the security officer (in Jeju) who wanted me to cover North Korea negatively."
 
Ahn Byeong-ho, an official at the G-20 preparation committee, said he could not give details nor was he aware of Salameh's case. A journalist can be denied entry to the summit if he or she has a security problem, he said.
 
For foreign journalists applying for a press pass, the committee goes through a security check with the embassy of their nationality before issuing them the card.
 
"But even after the security check was done with the embassy, something problematic may have been found with him," Ahn said. "But the security authorities usually don't give specifics on those things."
 
This was not Salameh's first to Seoul. He says he interviewed Ban Ki-moon, now secretary-general of the United Nations, when Ban was foreign minister and was invited to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae in 2007 by then President Roh Moo-hyun, who hosted a luncheon for foreign journalists who covered his inter-Korean summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that year.
 
Salameh was to cover the G-20 summit for Al Jazeera's Arabic-language news. His colleagues in the English-language news service were allowed entry to the summit.
 
hkim@yna.co.kr

G-20 leaders head into high-stakes summit amid currency row

via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea

World leaders will head into a high-stakes economic meeting Friday to make a final push for compromise on an intensifying dispute over currency and trade, and discuss other steps to underpin the fragile global economic recovery as Asia's first G-20 summit takes off in Seoul.
 
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and other leaders from the world's 20 major economies will hold six sessions of discussions as well as a working lunch through the day at COEX in southern Seoul. The focus will be on the first session where the leaders are expected to tackle a widening row over currency management and trade imbalances.
 
Other issues on the agenda include strengthening the international financial regulatory system, modernizing international financial institutions, narrowing development gaps between advanced and developing nations, preventing protectionism and forging a global financial safety net.
 
It is the fifth meeting of the G-20 leaders since they first met in late 2008 to discuss joint responses to the crisis that was rocking the world economy at the time. The G-20, which includes major industrialized and emerging nations, accounts for about 85 percent of the global economy.
 
South Korea is the first Asian nation to host a G-20 summit.
 
This week's summit came amid a currency row between the United States and China as Washington has mounted pressure on Beijing to stop keeping its currency, the yuan, artificially low, which makes Chinese goods cheaper. The U.S. claims the Chinese currency policy has worsened global trade and current account imbalances.
 
Complicating the dispute was the Federal Reserve's move to inject $600 billion into the U.S. economy to lower long-term interest rates in an effort to spur growth. The move has raised the eyebrows of some countries, such as China, Germany and Brazil, which believe lower U.S. interest rates will lead to the values of their currencies rising and hurt their exports.
 
Last month, the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 nations agreed to seek market-determined foreign exchange rates and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies. They also agreed to seek every possible policy to keep current account imbalances at a sustainable level.
 
South Korea, as chair of the summit, has hoped to flesh out that deal at the summit, such as creating a guideline for sustainable current account imbalances by requiring countries to limit surpluses or deficits to a certain proportion of their gross domestic products.
 
In the run-up to the summit, vice finance ministers and personal representatives of the leaders, dubbed the "Sherpa" group, haggled for days over the current account guideline proposal, but failed to find a compromise, underscoring the difficulty dealing with the sensitive issue.
 
After the series of sessions, the leaders plan to adopt a joint declaration to summarize their discussions and include whatever agreements are made. South Korean President Lee, as chair of the meetings, will later hold a press conference to announce the statement.
 
Unless there is a breakthrough, officials said that the leaders could settle for simply calling for defusing the standoff before they meet again in France next year or making general recommendations to reduce excessive imbalances.
 
The declaration is also expected to support what is known as the "Korea Initiative" that combines the establishment of a global financial safety net with the issue of balanced development.
 
Other measures likely to go into the declaration include universal calls for a "standstill" on all forms of protectionist measures and support for carrying out reforms in the International Monetary Fund as well as new financial sector restrictions.
 
Seoul is also pushing to incorporate a pledge by G-20 members to expand support for developing countries and fuel a drive to fight corruption that has been cited for holding up progress in the world's poorest countries.
 
The summit brought together about 4,000 officials from the 20 member economies, including top leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
 
In addition, the leaders of Spain and four other invited nations as well as top representatives of the U.N. and other international organizations will attend the summit.
 
jschang@yna.co.kr