Friday, 25 September 2009

G-20 Officials Seek To Convey Solidarity On Iran,Global Econ

G-20 Officials Seek To Convey Solidarity On Iran,Global Econ

By Maya Jackson Randall and Henry J. Pulizzi

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

PITTSBURGH -(Dow Jones)- Leaders of the Group of 20 nations are working hard to convey a new level of cooperation, a message that was front and center as the contours of their economic agreement emerged and the U.S., U.K., and France stood in solidarity to condemn Iran.

"Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow, endangering the global nonproliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world," said U.S. President Barack Obama, who was flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a surprise early-morning news conference Friday in Pittsburgh.

Officials also put their push for greater international cooperation on display Thursday evening with news that the G-20 will now eclipse the Group of Eight as the major platform for addressing global economic policy.

Earlier this week, it was unclear if there would even be any future G-20 summits.

Critics argued that the broad group, which includes both industrialized and developing nations, fails to produce concrete policy actions.

However, proponents point out that the world economy is changing and developing nations such as Brazil, China and India are growing rapidly and should have a seat at the table when it comes to key policy initiatives.

It is clear that Obama believes that the G-20 will have a key role to play going forward. The president's strong support for the forum reinforces the Obama administration's view that the U.S. cannot solve the world's economic policies single-handedly.

"We can't do this alone," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday during a press briefing with reporters as he highlighted new financial rules and rebalancing the global economy as two key issues that will be discussed during the G-20 summit. "To achieve a more stable financial system, we need strong reforms here in this country, but in other countries around the world. If we want more rapid growth here and lower unemployment, we need more rapid growth outside the United States."

"We're in this together. And that's why cooperation in the G-20 is so important to the interest of Americans," Geithner continued.

Leaders, clearly, also are working to show solidarity on Iran.

The U.S., France and U.K. held their news conference on Iran at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center before heading into official G-20 meetings. They accused Tehran of building a covert uranium enrichment facility.

Sarkozy said sanctions "will have to be taken" if Iran doesn't address the matter by December.

Brown echoed Sarkozy and Obama. "The level of deception by the Iranian government and the scale of what we believe is a breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the whole international community and it will harden our resolve," the prime minister said.

To be sure, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was conspicuously absent from Friday's announcement on Iran. Russia will have a key say in any potential sanctions, and its stance is unclear.

Other disagreements remain among G-20 officials when it comes to changing the International Monetary Fund's governance structure and agreeing on ways to overhaul financial regulations. But what is also clear is that leaders are committed to elevating the G-20's status to reflect key changes in the global economy and appear to be rallying around a U.S. proposal to "rebalance" global economic growth.

"We have taken active steps to adjust the domestic and overseas demand structure and the investment and consumption structure, and strike the right balance among the speed, structure, quality and efficiency of economic growth," Chinese President Hu Jintao said.

The leaders of Canada and South Korea said Friday their countries would host the G-20 summits in 2010, as the larger group supplants the G-8 as the main coordinating forum for global economic policy.

"The G-20 forum, ladies and gentleman, has now become the premier forum for discussing international economic cooperation," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said at a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, said the G-20's elevated status is a recognition of reality rather than a new sign of progress.

"The salient issues, other than bank regulatory reform, require genuine action from China and other prominent developing countries, which are members of the G-20 but not members of the G-8," Morici wrote.

-By Henry J. Pulizzi and Maya Jackson-Randall, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256; henry.pulizzi@dowjones.com

(Tom Barkley contributed to this article.)

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 25, 2009 12:24 ET (16:24 GMT)

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