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India, China pledge to take active roles in tackling financial crisis

Video by Luke SHRAGO , Yuka ROYER

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-26

China and India have confirmed their countries will take an active role in a crucial international summit on the global financial crisis in the United States next month.

European and Asian leaders promised major reforms to the global financial system as they wrapped up a two-day summit here Saturday focused on the economic meltdown.
   
Leaders from the 45 members of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) pledged to work together in comprehensively changing the world's financial architecture and urged the International Monetary Fund to play a larger role in the turmoil.
   
Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao urged unity between the two regions as they tackled the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and called for more regulation of the financial system.
   
"Only through cooperation can we have strength, can we tide over the difficulties," Wen told reporters after the end of the talks.
   
"We need to draw lessons from this crisis," he said.
   
"We need to handle correctly the relationship between financial innovation and regulation. We need financial innovation to serve the economy better, however we need even more financial regulation to ensure financial safety."
   
Wen said quickly stabilising financial markets was crucial, following another horror week around the world that saw share prices plummet.
   
The talks had not been expected to come up with concrete solutions to the crisis, but were seen as a precursor to crisis talks in Washington next month between the world's largest industrialised countries and developing economies.
   
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said concrete decisions needed to be taken at the November 15 talks.
   
"We have all understood that it would not be possible to simply have a conversation, have a discussion. We need to turn it into a decision-making forum," Sarkozy said.
   
"Europe would like to try and come up with a common position among all of us as to the common response to this unprecedented financial crisis."
   
Wen said China would take an active role in the talks, without saying which Chinese leader would attend.
   
In a statement released late Friday, the group vowed to overhaul the world's financial systems.
   
"Leaders pledged to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems," the statement said.
   
"They agreed to take quickly appropriate initiatives in this respect, in consultation with all stakeholders and the relevant international financial institutions."
   
Leaders also called on the IMF to "play a critical role" in helping countries most in trouble, should they ask for assistance.
   
Whereas Europe has already taken coordinated action to end the turmoil on the world's stock markets, sparked by the collapse of the US housing market and ensuing credit crunch, Asia had been less willing to make coordinated moves.
   
In their most concrete gesture, China, South Korea, Japan and 10 Southeast Asian Nations pledged on Friday to create an 80-billion-dollar fund that those countries could draw upon to fight off currency speculators.
   
Besides the economic crisis, the summit also discussed issues from sustainable development and energy security to climate change and regional conflicts.
   
Bilateral talks between various leaders on the sidelines of the summit also covered issues including North Korea's nuclear programme, food security and human rights -- a flashpoint issue between Europe and host China.
   
ASEM, which was set up in 1996 as a potential counter for Europe to strong US influence in Asia, brings together countries representing about 60 percent of global trade and 60 percent of the world's population.
   
The talks, which have been held every two years since 1996, are considered an opportunity to share ideas rather than come up with binding agreements.

Date created : 2008-10-25

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