G20 Leaders Turn Focus to Economics as Summit Enters Final Day

Posted June 19th, 2012 at 7:25 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. President Barack Obama will spend the last day of the G20 summit in Mexico Tuesday in further talks with his counterparts about the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.

The leaders of the world's largest economies issued a preliminary statement Monday declaring they were ready to launch a coordinated effort to promote economic growth. The position runs counter to the German-led European austerity drive, which has left debt-plagued nations such as Greece seething over Berlin's refusal to loosen spending restrictions imposed in exchange for a financial rescue.

Mr. Obama held bilateral talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the summit's first day Monday, in an effort to pressure European governments to take bolder action to resolve the crisis that has threatened the 17-nation euro currency bloc. The U.S. president has blamed the eurozone debt crisis for the continuing high unemployment rate in the United States, which could imperil his re-election efforts this November.

The White House later said Mr. Obama was “encouraged” by his discussions with Ms. Merkel about the steps European leaders were taking to address the sovereign debt crisis.

A planned meeting between Mr. Obama and his European counterparts after Monday's official dinner was canceled after the event went longer than scheduled.

The U.S. president will meet privately with Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday before heading back to Washington.

China has pledged to contribute $43 billion to the International Monetary Fund's emergency bailout fund, along with pledges of $10 billion each from Brazil, Russia and India. The contributions from the four emerging nations boosts the IMF's bailout fund to $456 billion.

Recent gatherings of the G20, with leaders from the world's leading economies, have been consumed with details of the European financial crisis, amid fears that an economic collapse on the continent would quickly spread across the globe.

But representatives of some non-governmental agencies are also pressing the heads of state to not overlook the plight of poor, non-industrialized countries, where most of the world's neediest people live.

Mr. Obama also held talks Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two men discussed a range of topics, including the deadly fighting in Syria.

Russia, a longtime ally of Syria, has shielded its President Bashar al-Assad from United Nations sanctions sought by Western and Arab states opposed to his 11-year rule and his violent crackdown on the opposition.

The meeting between the Russian and American presidents was the first since Mr. Putin's return to the presidency after his election in March. The two men have had a prickly relationship of late, with the U.S. leader pointedly delaying a customary congratulatory call to his Russian counterpart after the election. Last month, Mr. Putin stayed home rather then attend a Group of Eight meeting Mr. Obama hosted at his presidential retreat near Washington.