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A replica of the 18th century ship that took a French general on his voyage to become a hero of the American war of independence was to set sail again Saturday, cheered off by thousands of well-wishers and President Francois Hollande. Thousands gathered to wish "bon voyage" to the painstakingly recreated tall ship Hermione, leaving from Ile d'Aix, in southwest France, for the east coast of the United States. The French and American flags were raised on the wooden frigate and crew members made last minute preparations for their Atlantic crossing retracing the voyage 235 years ago of General Lafayette, who won fame for rallying America's rebels fighting for independence from Britain. "The Hermione is a glorious page of our history... thus was sealed one of the finest alliances, a fraternal alliance," said Hollande in comments followed by a rendition of the American national anthem, the "Star Spangled Banner".
By David Chance WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund warned in a communique on Saturday that while economic growth in developed countries had strengthened, some emerging nations were being hit by weaker commodity prices and exports. With the United States poised to hike interest rates, the IMF member nations said it was essential that moves to "policy normalization" were accompanied by effective communication of changes to reduce risks of spillovers. "The possibility of lower growth potential is becoming a more relevant challenge over the medium term," the IMF's steering committee said in a communique during the Fund's spring meetings in Washington. Those meetings conclude on Sunday and have taken place amid growing concerns cash-strapped Greece will fail to reach agreement with its European Union and IMF creditors.