London The world’s seven leading industrial nations called on Friday for freezing debt payments owed by countries devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Britain’s Treasury chief, Gordon Brown, said the Group of 7 nations would seek agreement for the plan at a meeting Wednesday of the Paris Club, an informal group of creditor governments that helps decide on debt restructuring.
The G-7, which includes the United States and the six next biggest industrial nations, also asked the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to complete an assessment this month of the reconstruction costs for afflicted countries.
“We must ensure that those countries are not prevented from paying for essential reconstruction because they are having to fund the servicing of their debts. So, for afflicted countries that request it, the G-7 is proposing an immediate suspension of debt repayments,” said Brown, whose country holds the presidency of the group this year.
U.S. stops deportations to Sri Lanka and Maldives
Washington The U.S. government has temporarily stopped deporting people to Sri Lanka and Maldives, two of the countries devastated by the tsunami disaster.
Citizens of those countries with deportation orders will be allowed to stay in the United States until April 7, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Homeland Security Department said Friday. Immigration officials also said they will speed deportations to those countries of people who want to get home.
Non-criminal immigrants of other tsunami-affected countries will be allowed to petition to remain in the United States. Their requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, said Dean Boyd, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman.
The department is looking for other ways to respond to the disaster, said Bill Strassberger, spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services. Options include allowing students from the affected countries to work and allowing people from the countries to work and stay in the United States under temporary protected status, even if they are in the United States illegally.
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