G20 summit opens: Developing world ‘holds key’ (Lead)September 25th, 2009 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS
By Arvind Padmanabhan
Pittsburgh, Sep 25 (IANS) A two-day summit of leaders of 20 leading global economies opened here amid calls by developing countries such as India to have a key role in restoring normalcy in the global financial system and overcoming the current economic downturn.
As hundreds of demonstrators were kept at bay by thousands of policemen in riot gear outside the summit venue, inside leader after leader spoke of the importance of developing countries to the world economy.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived here Thursday, has said India had much to offer in terms of finding a solution to the financial crisis. On the other hand, US President Barack Obama feels America alone cannot resolve all problems and there must be a global consensus.
“Leaders should recognise that developing countries are a key part of the solution,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick, ahead of the summit Thursday and Friday.
“Pittsburgh can be a turning point in other ways. Developing countries are part of the solution,” he said, adding: “If London was a summit for the financial sector, let Pittsburgh be a summit for the poor.”
Outside the convention centre where the summit was being held, at least 500 protesters carried anti-capitalist signs and chanted: “Bankers, bankers, watch your back, we don’t protest, we attack.”
The demonstrators included self-proclaimed anarchists in black, those demanding a free Tibet wearing yellow, monks from Myanmar in maroon robes and others waving red flags and banners that said: “Imperialistic capitalist meeting in progress. Quiet please.”
About a dozen Greenpeace activists were arrested after rappelling from a bridge and unfurling a banner, the NGO said.
Inside, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, said: “When it comes to financial market regulations, we’re very worried about the fact that banks seem to be returning to business as usual.”
The EU is pushing for more stringent regulations of the markets and restrictions on executive compensation.
China has concerns about Washington’s skyrocketing budget deficit, which will top 11 percent of US economic output this year.
Some 1,100 delegates and more than 2,000 journalists from across the globe have converged here for the third G20 Summit during which India is expected to commit itself to engagement in ensuring the recovery of the global economy.
“It is necessary for India to engage in the management of the world economy because we have a lot at stake, and a lot to contribute,” Manmohan Singh said as he prepared for the summit.
At the same time he also expected some strong signals from the summit against protectionism, especially by rich nations, whether it concerned trade in goods, services, investment or financial flows.
The most significant remarks, nevertheless, came from the host Obama. “Power is no longer a zero sum game. No nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed,” said the US president.
According to participating diplomats, the G20 leaders were expected to issue a statement at the end of the summit Friday committing themselves to a framework of sustainable and balanced growth.
The city, meanwhile was geared to tackle any protest that turns ugly, with the federal government expected to spend some $10 million on security arrangements with another $4 million by the state of Pennsylvania. At one point heavily-armed police carrying plastic shields and batons used tear gas to disperse dozens of demonstrators — wearing bandanas and gas masks — outside the venue.
More than 4,000 police have been called into service during the summit in the city of 300,000.
The green banners put up in the city read: “Pittsburgh welcomes the world”, even as police was patrolling the areas near the venue on foot, helicopters and even bicycles.
Besides India and the US, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Britain and the EU.
(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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