from the Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -
The Trilateral Commission,
long an exclusive club of influential citizens from the world’s most
powerful nations, is reaching out to other countries to help find
ways to foster democracy and economic freedom.
While leading figures from nonmember countries like China, Korea,
Russia and Ukraine cannot become members of the commission, which
meets annually to discuss the future of the world, they sat at the
table for this year’s meetings in Washington, which ended Monday.
"We have taken steps importantly to extend the range of the
discussion ... to people outside the traditional trilateral areas,’’
Federal Reserve Chairman
Paul Volcker, leader of the U.S. contingent in one of the
world’s most prestigious gatherings. The commission, founded 26
years ago by banker
David Rockefeller, includes
more than 300 mostly private citizens from the United States,
Canada, Europe and Japan.
Volcker, at a closing news conference that attracted only a
handful of journalists, said three days of discussions that involved
about half the council’s membership reached no conclusions. Sessions
are closed to news coverage, although security is not tight and some
media figures belong to the commission.
Membership includes academics and industrial and former political
leaders. Current members of national governments are excluded.
"The Trilateral Commission doesn’t make any recommendations
on anything,’’ Volcker said - particularly not on reform of
exchange rates or the world financial system, which were among
topics briefly discussed at the meeting.
Otto Graf Lambsdorff, European chairman and former German
Bundestag member, said China was the focus of much discussion, again
with no consensus reached. He said, however, that no one opposed
cooperation with China and no one said China should not respect
Volcker said the participation of representatives from
several nonmember countries enhanced the discussions and will
continue at future annual sessions, held alternatively in the United
States, Japan and Europe.
"You have the opportunity of
changing thinking,’’ said Volcker, assessing the value of
the meetings. "I would hope that there is some kind of changing
in thinking, a convergence of thought, because people are
affected by the discussions, but it’s not directed deliberately
towards a particular end, other than the fostering of democracy
and economic development around the world.’’
The Japanese commission chairman,
Yotaro Kobayashi, head of Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., said,
"Having more participants from outside ... has only enriched the
course of the discussions.’’