Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The World's Eyes Are on London as Obama Checks in; President Arrives in London on First Foreign Visit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The World's Eyes Are on London as Obama Checks in; President Arrives in London on First Foreign Visit

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Woodcock

US president Barack Obama flew into the UK last night as world leaders gathered for the crunch G20 summit to seek global agreement on tackling the recession.

The president touched down at Stansted airport in Essex on board Air Force One before being flown by helicopter to the US ambassador's residence in London.

As he left the US, Mr Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Gordon Brown about elements of the package which remain to be thrashed out if consensus is to be reached at the Excel Centre in Docklands tomorrow.

The summit comes as two international organisations predicted the worst global economic downturn since the Second World War.

The World Bank said the global economy will shrink by 1.7% this year while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development put the expected contraction at 2.7%.

Despite intensive behind-the-scenes work by officials and a punishing diplomatic effort by the globe-trotting Prime Minister, gaps still remain between the 20 major economies - representing 85% of world trade - attending the summit.

Before leaving the US, Mr Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "The president and America are going to listen in London as well as lead." But the president's hopes for a co-ordinated "fiscal stimulus" of tax cuts and state spending to boost global demand look set to run into the sand of European opposition and resistance from central bankers, including the Bank of England's Mervyn King.

And France indicated yesterday that President Nicolas Sarkozy may walk away from the summit if the US and UK block his demand for a stronger global financial regulator.

Mr Brown has set out five tests which the G20 must meet: providing resources for the IMF and World Bank to support struggling economies; cleaning up the banking system; doing "whatever is necessary" to restore growth; resisting protectionism; and delivering low-carbon growth.

Yesterday he insisted that he was hopeful of agreement on a range of measures to restore growth and reform the banking system.

He said in a speech to faith and charity leaders in St Paul's Cathedral: "You will find on Thursday at the G20 that for the first time ever the world economies will agree international rules for the remuneration of bankers. …

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