By Paula Wolfson
London, UK (RPRN) 1 April 2009 -U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are calling for global unity as world leaders gather in London for an emergency economic summit. The two leaders downplayed differences on steps to reverse the current economic slide.
The president says no one country can fix the economic crisis.
Speaking just hours before the start of the G20 meeting of major economies, Mr. Obama stressed the need for all participants to seek common ground.
“I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work together to deal with these problems,” said Mr. Obama.
But there are signs of tension, as the G20 summit prepares to begin its work in London. Some countries are blaming the United States for sparking the economic crisis through the deregulation of its financial scene – a move that led to a credit crunch and sparked an economic recession.
The president says the United States has made mistakes, but so too did other countries whose regulatory systems could not keep pace with a changing financial sector. He says it is time to look for solutions.
“At this point, I am less interested in identifying blame, than in fixing the problem,” he said.
At home, Mr. Obama has focused on government spending to jump start the economy and he was expected to urge other nations to take similar steps at the economic summit.
France and Germany have balked at such action, saying the emphasis should be on regulatory reform. French President Nicholas Sarkozy even told an interviewer that he might walk out of the summit, if nations fail to agree on stricter regulation of global financial markets.
President Obama says reports of differences are overstated. And, Prime Minister Brown predicts no one will walk away from the summit and its important work.
“I am confident President Sarkozy will not be here for the first course of our dinner, but will still be sitting as we complete our dinner this evening,” said Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown says everyone knows the stakes are high.
“Never before has the world come together in this way to talk about an economic crisis,” he said. ” Any of the crises we have seen since the second World War, you have not had this level of international cooperation.”
On his first European tour as president, Barack Obama is seeking cooperation on both the economic and security front as he holds bilateral talks on the sidelines of the London summit.
His discussions with Gordon Brown also covered the new American strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran and the search for Middle East peace.
At their joint news conference, Mr. Obama also talked about efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons – an issue that is topping the agenda for his discussions here with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.