The $10m operation to protect the New York circus

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The Independent US

Street protests there will be in New York this week - police say they have issued 91 permits - but the city is not expected to see demonstrations against globalisation of the kind that crippled last year's World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle.

Street protests there will be in New York this week - police say they have issued 91 permits - but the city is not expected to see demonstrations against globalisation of the kind that crippled last year's World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle.

The United Nations, it seems, is not among institutions considered evil by the anti-globalisation movement, which is good news for the city and its 41,000 police officers. New York is spending $10m (£7m) to ensure the world leaders leave alive and intact on Friday. Also on hand will be thousands of secret service agents. Among their 245 "protectees" - staying in 36 hotels, seeking food and solace at countless restaurants, and travelling in 175 motorcades - will be President Bill Clinton and Ionatana Ionatana, Tuvalu's Prime Minister.

Leaders who are considered high-risk will receive extra attention. Ehud Barak, Israel's Prime Minister, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, President Fidel Castro of Cuba and President Vladimir Putin of Russia will be among them. President Mohammad Khatami will also be specially cocooned. His delegation has already been the victim of paint-throwing attacks and a bomb threat at his hotel, the UN Plaza.

The Plaza has traditionally played Downing Street-in-New York for visiting British prime ministers but this time Tony Blair will find himself farther from the UN action at the stately Carlisle Hotel on the Upper East Side.

Apart from speaking for his allotted five minutes at the summit this morning, Mr Blair has bilateral meetings and a Third Way event with Mr Clinton and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany this evening.

Also tonight Cherie Blair is expected at a human- rights symposium at the New York University Law School.

Women will be scarce at the summit table. Last night Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, was scheduled to meet the world's female leaders. But there are only nine, of whom five will be at the millennium summit, from Finland, Latvia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and San Marino.

The summit is all about numbers - the most world leaders convened in one place, riding around in 1,300 limousines and expounding to their peers for 300 seconds each. One other number will be on everyone's mind - the $1.7bn the UN says it is owed by the US in arrears.Washington will hear nothing of it. The real figure, it says, is a mere $1bn.

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