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Thursday, December 02, 1999, updated at 09:25(GMT+8)
World WTO Third Ministerial Conference Opens

Representatives from 135 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Tuesday opened its Third Ministerial Conference in Seattle despite huge protests in downtown of the city.

Outside Washington State Convention and Trade Center, the WTO conference hall, thousands of demonstrators built human chains to block all accesses to the opening ceremony which was forced to be delayed for nearly 6 hours.

Inside the conference hall, representatives of WTO members were listening speeches given by Mike Moore, director-general of the WTO, as well as ministers from selected nations around the world. Those speakers tried to narrow differences among the 135 members that have been quarreling over the text of a statement setting forth the body's future plans.

The mission of the WTO is to create a prospering global economy with an increased flow of goods and services around the world. But critics argue most of the planet's population will not benefit from WTO actions and may, in fact, be harmed by them.

Moore said peaceful protests around Seattle and other cities along the US West Coast may lead to important reforms and great achievements in the United States, but warned "violence and destructive behavior have never been part of that process."

He urged all the people to show maximum restraint in the coming days as the ministers seek to reach an outcome which benefits working families across the world.

Moore denied the criticism that the WTO is not democracy, saying that all the ministers, appointed by their head of governments, were voted by their peoples.

He claimed the negotiating groups are in full swing, and hoped the conference in Seattle will be a success.

Following his opening remarks, ministers from Tanzania and Singapore began to address the delayed conference. (Xinhua)

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