G20 Summit: World leaders mull crisis strategy

Centre-left leaders meet in Chile Saturday at a conference dominated by the financial crisis and global efforts to tackle it, ahead of a key G20 summit in London next week.

Amid a spiralling worldwide economic meltdown, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called Friday for global unity and reform of the International Monetary Fund, at the start of the two-day meeting in Chile’s western Vina del Mar beach resort.

Brown will host world leaders from the Group of 20 industrialised and developing economies for a crucial summit on April 2 aimed at coordinating global efforts to fight the economic downturn and preventing similar crises.

“We cannot solve the problem of global financial instability without there being a global solution,” Brown told centre-left leaders and policy makers in Chile, including US Vice President Joe Biden and Argentine President Christina Kirchner.

“We must reshape the world, (and) make global action work.”

“It is absolutely clear that the global institutions that we built in the 1940s are quite incapable of dealing with the problems that we have now,” Brown added.

Summit host Bachelet said it was a key time for progressives to act, as she hosted the first Progressive Governance summit in Latin America.

“We have the great challenge of creating a popular, not populist ideology,” Bachelet said. She also called for the coordination of fiscal stimulus plans across different countries.

IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Friday that more government stimulus plans may be needed in 2010 to boost the world economy.

European countries including France and Germany have so far brushed off calls from the United States to increase their spending plans, saying they have done enough and there should be more emphasis on financial regulation.

During a meeting in Brazil on Thursday, Brown and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva meanwhile proposed to create a 100-billion-dollar global fund to boost trade.

Lula, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg also attended the Chile meeting.

The conference was organized by Policy Network, an international think tank initiated 10 years ago by former US president Bill Clinton, with past meetings in Washington, Berlin, Stockholm, London, Budapest and Johannesburg.

Biden was due to take part in an official visit to Chile late Saturday before travelling to Costa Rica.

During his first Latin America trip, the US vice president sounded out regional leaders ahead of the Summit of the Americas next month in Trinidad and Tobago, which will be US President Barack Obama’s first major regional summit.

“These meetings are an important first step toward a new day in relations and building partnerships,” Biden wrote in an op-ed published in 11 Latin American newspapers Friday.

His tour comes as decades-long US influence is waning in the region, while Latin American countries have grown stronger and expanded relations with others, including China, Russia and India.

Source: The Daily Star, 29 March 2009


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