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Britain may offer to pay 10 percent of debts

Published Aug. 28, 2005

Britain is planning a new effort to help poor countries reduce their debts by offering to pay off 10 percent of the total owed to international agencies and challenging other nations to follow suit, said Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the Exchequer.

In an address today to an advocacy group called the Trade Justice Movement, Brown plans to repeat an earlier proposal that the International Monetary Fund should revalue its vast gold reserves, priced at a tenth of their market value, and use the proceeds to cancel Third World debt.

Brown's proposal is significant because it comes just days before the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington. The finance ministers of the Group of 7 major industrial nations, including Brown, are to meet just before those gatherings.

"What we hope is that this will break the logjam that has been there for some time," said Brendan Cox of nonprofit group Oxfam.