Today's Story Line

A weak euro and robust oil prices are likely to remain the focus of attention for world leaders this week. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are meeting in Prague (Page 6). Debt-relief for poor nations is the stated theme. But petroleum will ooze into the discussion. Many debt-laden developing nations rely heavily on oil. Meanwhile, the OPEC leaders are holding their own summit in Caracas, Venezuela, (this page). Will they boost production? The US is trying to jolt the psychology of the oil markets by releasing a relatively small but symbolic amount of crude from its strategic reserves (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor

LIVE-WIRE INTERVIEW: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says he was shocked while visiting Venezuela's Ministry of Energy and Mines, but not by anything told to him by a government official. "After an interview, I went to press the button for the elevator. But the glass covering was broken, and I stuck my finger right into live wires. I was still shaking my hand when I got on the elevator, and a smiling employee who'd seen the shocking incident said she couldn't help but be amused by the irony of getting a shock at the energy ministry. She seemed to take further delight in discovering my American nationality. Unfortunately for me, she said, Venezuela doesn't have the same personal-injury-lawsuit proclivities as the US."

SWISS CHOOSE ENGLISH: The Swiss see English as the language of the future, according to two surveys published yesterday. More than a quarter of Swiss citizens believe English rather than the main Swiss languages - German, French, and Italian - should be used as a national lingua franca, a survey carried out for the SonntagsZeitung newspaper found. The poll followed a controversial decision earlier this month by authorities in Switzerland's biggest city, Zurich, to make English instead of French the first foreign language for school children, reports Associated Press.

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