WASHINGTON - The Independent Bankers Association of America has staked out a middle ground in the debate over insurance powers, concluding that banks should be able to sell insurance statewide, but not nationwide, from small towns.

Insurance agents "have the clout to make sure the issue is addressed by Congress," said Kenneth A. Guenther, the trade group's executive vice president. "We are putting forth a compromise."

The Comptroller of the Currency has authorized banks to sell insurance nationwide from towns with populations under 5,000. Insurance agent groups have pressed to confine such sales to the towns themselves and their environs.

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