Obama pledges to do needful to kick-start recovery (Lead)

April 2nd, 2009 - 1:01 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama London, April 1 (DPA) US President Barack Obama wound up his first day at the world political stage Wednesday, pledging to do all he could to face down the global recession as fresh tensions emerged over how to tackle the world economy’s biggest downturn since the World War II.
While Obama highlighted the consensus that had been reached among the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) world’s biggest economies ahead of their Thursday summit on the global crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy threw down the gauntlet on market reform.

“The United States is committed…to doing whatever it takes to stimulate growth and demand, and to ensure that a crisis like this never happens again,” Obama said at a joint press conference with G20 host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The president also rejected talk of deep divisions between the world’s big economic powers gathering in London for a summit on the global economic crisis, while he also laid out new foreign policy directions for his administration.

The differences between world leaders attending the G20 meeting of the leading industrialized nations and emerging economies had been “vastly overstated”, Obama said.

But speaking at a joint press conference with Sarkozy, an unusually combative Merkel said the time for laying “the foundations for the new financial architecture is now”.

Obama later joined the other world G20 leaders for a reception at Buckingham Palace and a working dinner at Brown’s official residence at 10 Downing Street.

The the heads of the G20 governments, which also include those of Canada and Italy as well China and India, gathered in London for the summit against the backdrop of an unprecedented security alert in the British capital to deal with mass demonstrations.

While protestors clashed with police outside the Bank of England in London’s financial centre, anti-war protestors descended on the American embassy in the city.

On his first trip outside North America since becoming president, Obama agreed at his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev for talks on a new nuclear arms deal.

The agreement formed part of an effort on the part of both Moscow and Washington to begin a new chapter in US-Russian relations, which hit a low point during the presidency of George W. Bush.

For many world leaders, however, the London summit represents their first chance to meet the new US chief executive, with Obama also hold talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The US and Chinese leaders also signalled plans to open a new dialogue between Washington and Beijing by committing themselves to working together to tackle the economic crisis. Obama is to visit both China and Moscow later in the year.

In his remarks to reporters, Obama also raised hopes for a more open dialogue with Iran as well as calling for steps to secure a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and to stabilise and rebuild Afghanistan.

At their joint press conference, both Brown and Obama emphasized their concerns for the human fallout from recession and called on the summit to agree to reforming the rules governing global markets.

Commenting on reports of a rift between the US and Europe over Washington’s calls for additional fiscal stimulus packages to help spur growth, Obama said governments around the world have launched their own plans for warding off the recession.

“I think there’s broad recognition that in the midst of the greatest crisis we have seen since the ’30s, that governments are going to have to act, and certainly the US does not intend to act alone - and we are not,” said Obama.

Acknowledging that 2009 was likely to be difficult year for people around the world, Obama said that people were concerned about “losing their jobs, losing their homes losing their savings and losing their pensions.

“We have a responsibility to act with a sense of urgency,” said Obama.

At their press conference, Brown said that he and Obama had agreed that the world leaders had to clean up the banking system so that an economic recovery could take hold.

But the two leaders also expressed optimism about the London summit reaching agreement on world market reform and improved international economic co-ordination to tackle the global recession.

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