US hopes G20 summit will agree on action plan

November 13th, 2008 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) As the US prepared to receive Group of Twenty (G20) leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it expressed the hope their weekend summit would evolve common principles for reform to ward off a future financial crisis.”We expect that leaders will want to come to an agreement on an action plan identifying specific implementation measures,” Dan Price, a key aide of President George W. Bush who would be his sherpa at the summit told reporters Wednesday.

“We believe that gathering of these leaders at this time is timely, is appropriate,” said Price, assistant to the president for International Economic Affairs, briefing the media with Treasury Department’s under secretary for international affairs, David McCormick.

However, “the effort to reform the world’s financial markets is not the work of a single summit”, Price said. So the weekend summit “will be the first in a series of meetings to discuss appropriate responses to the present turmoil in global financial markets, as well as to help ensure long-term prosperity”, he said.

Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia will act as the Prime Minister’s sherpa, a key aide who carries the burden of negotiations with his counterparts. The Indian delegation will include Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Secretary for Economic Affairs Ashok Chawla.

The leaders of G20, that includes those of G7 industrial nations and emerging economies like India, are gathering here to develop a common approach to combating the current global economic crisis, triggered initially by the sub-prime mortgage meltdown in the US.

The summit will also see participation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Director General Dominique Strauss-Kahn, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the chairman of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF), Mario Draghi.

“I actually think there is a lot more common ground among countries who will be around the table than the rhetoric might suggest,” Price said, dismissing suggestions that differences in the stated positions of the US, European leaders and emerging economies might prevent the summit from achieving anything worthwhile.

Both Price and McCormick said it was important that the G20 not only agree on the causes of the current financial crisis but also take action where they can to dampen it and to avoid any further harm to global economic activity.

“Finally, the president expects that leaders will want to ensure that the international financial institutions stand ready to support emerging and developing economies that are being affected by the crisis,” Price said.

Bush will emphasise the importance of donor countries following through on the development assistance commitments they have made, he said, adding: “Difficult economic times should not be an excuse for walking away from promises made to those most in need.”

President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office Jan 20, has said that since a country can only have one president at a time, he would not take part in the summit or meet foreign leaders on the sidelines of the meeting.

However, he has named a bipartisan team of two to meet foreign delegations at the summit to open communication between the next US administration and the visiting world leaders.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a Democrat, and former Republican Representative Jim Leach will be available for unofficial meetings on Obama’s behalf at the summit, a statement from his office said.

“This weekend’s summit is an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of many of the world’s largest economies,” said Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough. “President Bush should be commended for calling the summit.”

Albright served as secretary of state and US ambassador to the United Nations under then-president Bill Clinton. Leach, a moderate Republican, was a congressman from Iowa for 30 years, where he served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

At the White House, press secretary Dana Perino welcomed the announcement. “We think that it’s a good idea to make sure that there’s good, fluid communication between his team and leaders who want to establish relationships with the new president and his representatives,” she said.

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