WTO talks open amid pessimism and protest

13 December, 2005

HONG KONG (AFP) - World trade ministers launched a fresh bid to salvage free trade negotiations amid little hope for major headway, as thousands of protesters marched in the streets to denounce the WTO as an enemy of the poor.

About 20 demonstrators shouted slogans and waved signs hostile to the World Trade Organization as its director general, Pascal Lamy, was addressing the opening session of the body's ministerial meeting here.

"The WTO kills farmers" and "No to the WTO" read signs brandished by the protesters clustered in the rear of the meeting hall. Officials said they quickly left the hall without incident.

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