Brown heads to first Obama talks demanding 'global new deal'
After the handshakes and pledges that the US-British so-called "Special Relationship" is stronger than ever, Obama and Brown are set to focus on discussing the massive economic stimulus packages they have both undertaken. The leaders are also expected to press for greater help from other countries in sharing the burden of fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.
"I believe there is no challenge so great or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by America, Britain and the world working together," Brown wrote in The Sunday Times newspaper. "That is why President Obama and I will discuss this week a global new deal, whose impact can stretch from the villages of Africa to reforming the financial institutions of London and New York -- and giving security to the hard-working families in every country."
"I see this global new deal as an agreement that every continent injects resources into its economy." It would require all continents to make cash injections to boost economies, all countries to adopt green policies, universal banking reforms and changes to international bodies, he suggested. "I have always been an Atlanticist... I want to do more to strengthen even further our relationship with America."
With Brown hosting a summit of the Group of 20 developed and developing countries in London on April 2, he wants to ensure he and Obama share the same goals for a meeting which the world is looking to for fresh economic direction. "There needs to be a very strong, shared agenda between the UK and the US going forward to the summit," a British official in Washington told reporters, adding that Brown would be putting forward ideas for "cleaning up and reforming the world of finance."
In the wake of the huge problems in banks worldwide, triggered by their exposure to subprime mortgages in the United States, Brown has called for tougher banking regulation and an overhaul of the financial system. The wealthiest G20 nations will be expected to help the world's poorest countries weather the economic storm. "So to our minds that requires more resources from the International Monetary Fund in particular to enable them to have the firepower to help these countries," the British official said.
Brown and the leaders of Europe's other major economies recently agreed to back proposals to add an extra 250 billion dollars (197 billion euros) -- double the current level of funding -- to the IMF budget.
As the global economic woes deepen, Obama is also deeply engaged in the process of shifting Washington's focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, confirming on Friday that US combat operations in Iraq would end within 18 months.
Obama has already promised that 17,000 additional US troops will be sent to Afghanistan this year to join 38,000 already there. Britain has the second-biggest contingent in the violence-wracked country with 8,500 troops.
Officials said they did not expect Obama to press Brown to increase Britain's presence, but they are expected to unite in calling for more help from other allies. Britain is also believed to back suggestions that Iran could be encouraged to use its influence in the region to help reduce the violence.
On Wednesday, Brown will become the fifth British leader to address the US Congress. British diplomats will be rejoicing that Brown has beaten French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the coveted first meeting with Obama and his party hopes it will boost his flagging poll scores.
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