US President Barack Obama hailed the decisions reached by G20 leaders to allocate more than one trillion dollars to world financial institutions and crack down on tax havens as a "very productive" step towards global economic recovery.
AFP - President Barack Obama Thursday hailed the sweeping action agreed by G20 nations as a "turning point" for the global economy but warned that this did not guarantee swift recovery.
Quickly seizing a prime leadership role at the crunch meeting of developed and developing nations, Obama hailed the "unprecedented" measures agreed to straighten a warped regulatory regime that helped trigger the crisis.
But the new US president warned he would continue to fight America's corner in the pursuit of economic rebirth and expected other leaders to do the same, despite their pledge to join together in the long haul back to recovery.
"We finished a very productive summit that will be, I believe, a turning point in our pursuit of global economic recovery," Obama told a packed press conference.
"By any measure, the London summit was historic. It was historic because of the size and the scope of the challenges that we face and because of the timeliness and magnitude of our response."
The president spoke after the G20 nations had agreed a huge program of new spending that will take their combined outlay in the crisis to five trillion dollars by the end of the next year.
The summit also allocated more than one trillion dollars to the International Monetary Fund and other institutions, ordered a crackdown on tax havens and excessive corporate pay, and new measures to help poor nations.
"We have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again," said Obama, who appeared tired and was battling a heavy cold.
"In life, there are no guarantees, and in economics, there are no guarantees," he warned, when asked how quickly the large-scale reforms would rescue the crippled economy.
"I have no doubt, though, that the steps that have been taken are critical to preventing us sliding into a depression.
"They are bolder and more rapid than any international response that we've seen to a financial crisis in memory."
As the summit turned to its less developed members, Obama announced that the US food and agricultural aid to Africa, Latin America and other poor regions would double to more than one billion dollars because of the economic crisis.
Earlier, US officials said the rookie president had broken a "logjam" inside tense G20 negotiations between France and China over the key issue of tax havens.
The crisis talks ended with an agreement that summit participants would take note of a list of non-compliant tax havens published by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
A US official said the language was amended as a direct result of Obama's intervention between France, which was adamant the meeting should endorse a list, and China, which opposed the move.
On Friday, Obama will move from the economic crisis to the deepening security mire in Afghanistan as he heads to France and Germany for the NATO summit, the latest leg of a tour also including the Czech Republic and Turkey.
Asked how he had done so far on his debut venture onto the world stage, Obama said: "I think we did OK," going on to say that he believed he had already improved US standing abroad after the strained years of the former Bush administration.
One of the key leaders he met in London, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, hailed Obama as his "new comrade" but admitted that despite a pact to talk about nuclear weapons cuts, little progress had been made yet.
On Thursday, the US president held his first face-to-face talks with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"The President reiterated his appreciation for Saudi Arabia's leadership in promoting the Arab Peace Initiative," the White House said in a statement.
"He and King Abdullah agreed to continue close consultations on a range of bilateral and regional issues."
The brewing crisis over North Korea's weapons programs meanwhile overshadowed Obama's first meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.
The leaders promised a firm and "stern" response to any North Korean rocket launch after a fresh fiery outburst from Pyongyang.
"The presidents said the international community needs to take stern, unified action against North Korea if the North fires a long-range rocket," a South Korean official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Date created : 2009-04-03