After a Champagne toast and opening remarks on Friday, leaders of the world's 20 richest nations and emerging economic powers planned to start trying Saturday to chart a way forward through the present financial turmoil.
Leaders from the Group of 20 richest countries and emerging economic powers meet on Friday and Saturday in Washington for the first time since the G20 was formed in 1999 in the wake of the Asian and Russian financial crises.
Until the Washington summit, the G20 has brought together finance ministers and central bankers at annual meetings, also attended by officials from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
However, the worst financial crisis in generations prompted US President George W. Bush -- after being leaned on by European leaders -- to call the first summit of G20 heads of state and government.
The summit, which begins on Friday with dinner at the White House and is followed with formal talks on Saturday, is to focus on recasting the international financial system to be more stable in the future.
The G20 includes the Group of Eight richest countries -- United States, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Britain and Canada and Russia -- in addition to the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.
Spain and the Netherlands have also been invited to attend the G20 summit in Washington although they are not counted as members.
The Group of 20 countries account for 90 percent of the world economy and about two-thirds of its population.
After a succession of crises in Asia, Russia and Latin America, the G20 was set up as a forum to deepen dialogue between the main economic powers in order to prevent future turbulence.
Its members also often discuss issues ranging from fiscal and monetary policy, to economic growth, trade and energy.
The G20 is often confused with the group of 20 developing countries that try to coordinate their positions within international negotiations at the World Trade Organization.
That group, which is also called the G20 and is led by Brazil, aims in particular to defend the interests of their agriculture commodity producers by maintaining pressure on the European Union, the United States and Japan to cut their handouts to farmers.
Date created : 2008-11-15