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President Obama/Prime Minister Brown G-20 Summit Press Conference
Aired April 1, 2009 - 04:54 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. And welcome to a special early edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry along with T.J. Holmes this morning.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
CHETRY: Good to see you again, T.J.
HOLMES: Good morning. Good to be here this morning.
CHETRY: Yes. It's Wednesday, April 1st. You're looking at tape right now that was just churned for us. This is the situation that's happening in London right now as the G-20 Summit is getting set to begin there. You see President Barack Obama shaking hands with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
And just a couple of moments ago -- oh, there's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well. Some hand-shaking going on as they get set for a press conference. President Barack Obama is going to be speaking as well as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in just moments.
Right now, some of the posing of photos -- for some pictures ahead of this. And we're going to bring in Christiane Amanpour as well as Christine Romans. They are with us as well this morning as we get set to bring you several hours of live coverage of the highly anticipated economic summit.
HOLMES: And we were just talking to Christine Romans here, asking, where is Timothy Geithner this week? Well, there he is. He just showed up there in London at the G-20.
Of course, the G-20 normally is just for the finance ministers and bankers. But this time they're doing it for the leaders of all of these G-20 countries. Again, looking at tape here of the meetings just getting under way today in London.
Again, Christine, I will go ahead and bring you in here. You're sitting here to my right in studio. It's important to have him there as well, Timothy Geithner, making this trip.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is an important trip, no doubt, because this is the first gathering of these leaders -- this set of leaders since this crisis really, really exploded. Last November, there was an emergency meeting of some of these leaders. But a lot of people are billing this as the most important gathering of world leaders since Bretton Woods after World War II, when the American and international financial infrastructure was put together.
Now that system has been tested very, very gravely, a lot of people want to see what kind of leadership role the United States can take and whether there can be some consensus and cooperation about global stimulus and also financial regulation.
How do we make this a robust and stable situation and system again that everyone can benefit from that we can have prosperity for another century?
CHETRY: And we also bring in our Christiane Amanpour who is with us this morning bright and early as well.
And, you know, some have been noting, especially some of the economists, this paradox that, you know, the United States, they believe that there is a loss of confidence globally in the United States' system of capitalism. Yet it's the United States system that they're hoping is going to bail them out.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And just as we look at this picture, you see Barack Obama, the president, flanked by his treasury secretary, his secretary of state, and on the right of Hillary Clinton, to the left is General Jim Jones, the national security adviser.
Of course, they're sitting across the table from Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, and David Miliband, who are respectively the chancellor of the exchequer, the prime minister, and the foreign secretary of Great Britain.
It is a paradox, because in Europe in the summer, when Barack Obama made his first trip there so far as candidate, we saw him -- I reported on his huge and tumultuous welcome in Germany when some 200,000 people came into the streets of the victory monument to hear his speech there.
Europe has really worshipped him, as they have been saying in the Financial Times this morning, and really looking for a new leadership in the United States. But that was before the economic crisis and one in which the U.S. is held to blame.
And so this is some of the paradox of the moment. Obviously Barack Obama is inheriting this global economic crisis from his predecessors, but in Europe they're saying, look, you know, this is something that sort of rolled over from the United States and now we're being expected to make huge stimulus like you are.
They're saying right now, for instance, Angela Merkel, she doesn't like this, in Britain -- although Gordon Brown did take a big lead on the whole economic crisis back in September and October, now they're saying, you know, we actually have our welfare societies, we have all of our protections for our institutions and our people in terms of unemployment and in terms of the big welfare society, so don't ask us to put a huge amount more in.
That may change. But that seems to be the conversation going into this G-20 meeting.
HOLMES: Yes. And, Christiane, you mention the frenzy that everybody was in -- Europe was in when he went on that trip before. We have our Suzanne Malveaux standing by there for us in London to see if there is a frenzy this time around.
And we want to remind our viewers, we are standing by, waiting for a press conference with President Barack Obama and also Gordon Brown, expecting that at any minute, we will bring that to you live when it happens. But let's go live now to Suzanne Malveaux.
Suzanne, we were talking about that frenzy on that last trip to Europe. How is being received so far this time?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's really very mixed, T.J. Obviously we've seen protests that are beginning to gather. We expect that there are going to be thousands of people that are on the streets. We've already seen that in the days preceding this big summit.
But there is also a lot of enthusiasm and excitement here. I want to show you, however, these are how the papers here in London are perceiving this: "Merkel and Sarkozy Move to Seize Summit Initiative."
Obviously looking at this as really trying a power grab, if you will.
Who is going to dominate this summit? Who is really going to set the agenda? That is a big question. It's something that Christiane had mentioned. Another paper here: "Obama Flies Into 'Fortress London.'"
This really expressing just the level of security that we are seeing surrounding this visit, surrounding this president. Obviously a lot of people, some anger directed -- some directly at Barack Obama, others at the Bush administration, but essentially the United States. Some believe that this really is a problem that has spread to the rest of the world, this economic crisis.
There was a very interesting -- this is an editorial here from the Financial Times, one of them saying here -- he says that "Europeans have long worshipped Barack Obama from afar," but then he goes on to say here, "Yet there is every indication that Europe's leaders are about to stiff him."
And that is the big question here, how is he going to be received and how -- his power, in terms of his influence, is going to go beyond what we saw in candidate Obama to now President Obama? - T.J.
HOLMES: All right. And here we are coming up on the top of the hour, looking at a live picture now outside 10 Downing Street where the president is with Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, expecting them to come out at any moment, just head across the way to the Foreign Office where this press conference is going to be taking place.
Again, supposed to happen -- we've got all kinds of guidance about when this is exactly supposed to happen. But as soon as it does, expect that maybe around 5:15 we'll bring that to you live.
CHETRY: That's right. We're getting (INAUDIBLE) developments, moment by moment, as soon as we get the new tape in -- of course, because of security reasons, some of this isn't live. As soon as we get the tape in, we bring it to you.
This picture, however, is live. And if you are just joining us this morning, the backdrop of this is the London summit, the summit of G-20 that really brings together the world's 20 largest economic powers, the Group of 20.
They are going to be discussing, of course, the global financial crisis, and also hoping to come to some consensus about new measures to set the world on a more stable footing economically speaking. Whether or not they're going to agree on anything concrete still remains to be seen. We have with us this morning Christiane Amanpour, of course, our senior international correspondent as well as Christine Romans. They're looking at the global implications, through all of the economic implications of this meeting today.
And I want to bring in Christiane again to talk a little bit about this.
You know, we talked about our president, Barack Obama, having so much political capital, especially on the world stage. Does he come out -- is there no way he can come out of this, you know, as grand? Is he going to have to use up some political capital, not because there is any, you know, bad feelings about him, in fact, a lot, as we've said, of excitement surrounding his presidency, but just the situation that we find ourselves in here in the United States and the blame that many countries put on us for how we got into this global crisis?
AMANPOUR: Yes. And again, as we look at that picture of the two leaders at Downing Street with their wives, first lady Michelle Obama and British first lady Sarah Brown, yes, Barack Obama is obviously going to come out of this not as worshiped as he went into it, or just before his presidency.
However, it's really important to note that this is a new dawn in American foreign policy, in the division of America's power projection in the world. And people really still have a huge amount of respect and affection for him.
There is enormous change in the way people think about the United States and the U.S. presidency since his election. And by the way, they're standing -- they're just under a picture of Queen Elizabeth I, the great queen of England, the warrior queen who ushered in some many years of prosperity, both on the economic and the cultural side in history so many hundreds of years ago.
Barack Obama will indeed receive, I think, a lot of the respect that is his due, given what he has achieved in becoming president of the United States, but also because of the things he has already done that are within his remit. Yes, he's now dealing with an economic crisis that is very difficult and complex, one that he inherited. But he has taken steps that many around the world were glad to see.
For instance, the whole idea of announcing that they would close down Guantanamo Bay, announcing that the United States no longer supports torture, the whole reach out on various levels to various so- called adversaries of the United States, whether it be Syria, whether it be Iran, whether it be other countries.
The fact that Barack Obama, unlike the Bush administration, has said that he will be a president that wants to work in cooperation with his allies rather than as a unilateral projection of U.S. power.
All of this is welcome news in Europe. And although there is a lot of carping on the sidelines, in the press, and within the power structures, particularly in the economic zones around Europe and around the world, there is also a lot of people who are saying, just wait and see what happens.
The Economist, the venerable economist newspaper magazine, as you know, last week, had a pretty stiff editorial saying basically lead, damn it. They were a little bit disappointed on the way the economic leadership was going, most particularly in the United States.
But as I say, this is his first trip abroad, it will be the first time since the very difficult years of the Bush administration that world sees another different face of the United States.
HOLMES: And we will play off that point you just made about leading, damn it, as we bring in Christine Romans here. And again, remind our viewers, we are awaiting any minute President Obama and Gordon Brown, expected to come out at any moment to have this press conference.
We'll take it live. Looking at just the -- some of the newest pictures we're getting from the G-20 summit, some of the meetings taking place, not right now.
But Christine Romans, on that point, to lead, a lot of these world leaders aren't so happy with where they think the U.S. has led them already. Why would they want to be led somewhere else, I guess, is the point? And has President Obama shown an openness to anybody else's ideas?
ROMANS: Look, this has been the most difficult financial crisis of the lifetime of any of the people in this room, you know, and so, yes, as Christiane said, there is a lot of carping about the situation where we are.
But I think that ultimately people are looking to the United States and what kind of solutions are going to come out to figure out what to do. The financial regulations that we heard, Timothy Geithner, the treasury secretary, proposed just last week, clearly were timed before this event to show the rest of the world that we are serious about reforming the system that failed so badly.
And leadership, interestingly enough, Gordon Brown has been trotting around the world for several weeks now, going to dozens of countries, laying out his plan for a global New Deal, and working closely with the -- with this administration as well. So there has been a lot of work and a lot of miles put on trying to find consensus among other nations.
In terms of the other players, India, China, Brazil, some of the developing nations, my sources in the administration are saying that you're going to see more of a role of these other players in the interconnected global financial system.
It's not just going to be the U.S. and the U.K., as it was after World War II, deciding for the rest of the world how the financial system is going to work and how financial stability is going to work for everyone, you're going to see more people at the table. I think that's going to be a big change here.
CHETRY: Just the other interesting thing, Christine, that I'd like you to talk about is that, you know, what they are trying to do is get all of these nations to resist the protectionist tendencies that happen in a global economy, right?
You know, it's very hard to sell at home domestically, let's, you know, use some stimulus to buy other countries' products. And so while they are all talking about that, they have this draft communique that is sort of circulating around, these are some broad principles that they're all hoping they can agree on, without getting too specific, because...
CHETRY: ... of course, in the detail is where there is some disagreement.
How do you, you know, basically make sure that that doesn't happen when there is so much domestic pressure and, at the end of the day, that's who you have to answer to?
ROMANS: It's incredibly difficult. And one person's protectionism is another person's auto industry bailout, quite frankly. I mean, it's very difficult, and different countries see protectionism very differently. And already there is a big debate about what is protectionism.
AMANPOUR: At the Davos meeting of all of the -- sort of the gabfest of all the economy, the World Economic Forum at the end of January, that was the main thing people were asking and really sort of white-knuckling over, how are we going to roll back nationalization, the way government is stepping in to try to rescue banks, taking big stakes of banks?
And how are we going to exactly prevent against protectionism? I think those are the two things that really matter there.
CHETRY: Right. And it's the countries that did not have their economies tangled up with some of the other global, you know, economies that ended up being better off at the end of the day right now. So, yes, a lot of those types of questions.
We're going to talk more about this, of course, we have Christiane and Christine Romans with us for the next, let me count on my hand now, four hours...
HOLMES: It's four.
HOLMES: Believe me, I know, it's four.
HOLMES: Someone keeping an eye on things this morning. Now a live picture here you are seeing outside 10 Downing Street, waiting for the president and Gordon Brown, when their press conference starts, we will take you back there live. Let me just make sure I see that door opening.
Well, you know what, we're going to stick with it. We see the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton there, coming out right now, followed by several others. But again, they're supposed to be making a short -- and you help me with this, Christiane, a short jaunt just across to the Foreign Office, which isn't too far, to make this press conference.
AMANPOUR: That's right. That is David Miliband. We've heard the very young British foreign secretary, sort of a wunderkind in the British political system. He is going to walk Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over, it looks like, through the archways of Downing Street, into the other neighboring street there in Whitehall, where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is located.
They will then go into that very ornate room, we've seen a little bit of that tape where there are huge, beautiful rooms that date back, you know, many, many hundreds of years to the height of the British Commonwealth. And that is where they're going to be holding apparently their joint press conference.
CHETRY: And, Christiane, you know a lot of these players, of course, in London as well. So as we take a look who is there on our side, we see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as our president, Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, treasury secretary, we see David Axelrod, one of his senior advisers there as well, what about on the British side? Who are we seeing besides Prime Minister Gordon Brown?
AMANPOUR: Well, who we have seen so far in these pictures are essentially their counterparts. We've seen Alistair Darling, who is the British chancellor of the exchequer, we are seeing Gordon Brown, of course, who is the prime minister and the head of government. And we have also seen David Miliband, the foreign secretary of Great Britain.
The others are also -- I just saw General Jones, I believe, sitting next to Hillary Clinton, the U.S. national security adviser. And opposite him, I can't quite see who is around the table, but obviously their equivalent there. And then assorted deputies and other aides, you mentioned David Axelrod.
I can't see the other side of the British table, but their respective ranks. And then, as I say, they'll go over to the Commonwealth Office, which is really something to behold. It is an incredible place with all of these beautiful marble staircases, beautiful paintings, ornate work on the ceilings, on the walls, tapestries.
And it is very, very -- it's a big flourish as you see there, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama coming out of 10 Downing Street.
HOLMES: Yes. And here they are. And Christiane has been walking us through it and telling us how they're going to walk, but making a short walk, as we say, just across the street there, going to make their way to this press conference, again, expected to happen at 5:15.
And we see these two, Christiane, together. We know Gordon Brown is hosting this huge G-20 meeting. But will we see the kind of marriage, this kind of dynamic duo that we saw a lot of times with President Bush and Tony Blair?
Always talked about how close the relationship those two had, will we see anything similar to maybe start to develop between these two?
AMANPOUR: It already has started. Look, Britain and the United States have a special relationship. Yes, it has been talked about for decades, but it is actually true. This is the key trans-Atlantic alliance.
Obviously some of Tony Blair's closeness to George Bush did not go down well in Britain because of the deep unpopularity of President Bush. I remember being in London, reporting on the pre-Gulf -- pre- Iraq War demonstrations.
You know, in mid-week about a million people came out onto the streets to oppose George Bush and the war in Iraq back in -- just before 2003. And this was a big drain on Tony Blair.
And Gordon Brown has already signaled that he is going to be having a cordial, respectful, productive, cooperative relationship as ever with the president of the United States, and this has already started, but he is also -- you know, he is also a different personality than Tony Blair is, who is much more open, much more open sort of convivial. Gordon Brown is a little bit more dour, a little bit more Scottish, a little bit more reserved. But, but very professional. And this is his bailiwick. He was chancellor of the exchequer, he knows the economy, and this is where he shines in terms of policy. And this is very important at the moment.
CHETRY: Right. OK. So we -- speaking of important, we are waiting any moment now for those doors to open. They are scheduled to speak, both British Prime Minister Tony -- you got me confused here, Gordon Brown, and our president here in the U.S., Barack Obama, they'll be coming out in just about two minutes.
And once again, this is also a time when the spotlight is on the prime minister of Britain, Tony -- look, I'm going to get this correct...
CHETRY: Gordon Brown. Because he is hosting this, and so there is sort of that pressure as the host of this big summit to sort of help with the consensus, yet at the same time, they are not necessarily on the same page with some of the other nations.
And there we see the door open once again. It doesn't look like they're quite ready yet. But we are going to bring in Nic -- our Nic Robertson, he is standing right outside of where this is taking place.
Give us the -- set the scene for us and tell us what's going on there as we await both the British prime minister as well as American president.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the meetings have gone on a little bit longer than everyone was anticipating this morning. So a press conference may be pushed back just a couple of minutes. But just a moment ago we saw President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown walk out of 10 Downing Street.
Hear they had over two hours of meetings. They were joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the foreign secretary here, David Miliband. They joined them for about another hour of talks.
It has been and it is today a day of high security in London. There are a number of demonstrations planned within the city here. A very big police presence in the city. Hearing a lot of helicopters around as well -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Nic, yes, you were talking about that. We're starting to see some people file in. So if we have to interrupt you, our apologies. We just saw Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make her way in and sit down as well. It looks like most of the dignitaries are getting themselves seated and the door is still ajar.
So we're probably going to hear from President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown any moment now.
HOLMES: And, again, we are expecting this at 5:15, it looks like they might be right on time. We did see our treasury secretary take his spot in the room as well. Important for him to be there, to be in the room because this -- they have plenty of things to talk about.
They have a lot on their plate, Christine Romans, during this G- 20 summit. But no doubt the economy is going to be at the forefront. And we keep holding our breath every time we see that door swing open, wonder if we're going to see the president walk in. But it should be any moment.
But we see this grandeur, this moment. We see this taking place right now as if this has just started today. But a lot of work has been done...
ROMANS: Oh, absolutely.
HOLMES: ... leading up to this. How busy have they been? I just see Gordon Brown, it appears...
ROMANS: All right.
HOLMES: Here they are. We'll go ahead and stick with this here, Christine, as the two take their place, the two leaders, there they are, like Christiane was just saying, we are married (ph) to this country, but now these two leaders forging their relationship.
GORDON BROWN, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: ... I welcome President Obama and the first lady on your first official visit to our country. President Obama, you have given renewed hope not only to the citizens of the United States of America, but also to citizens in all parts of the world.
And I want to thank you for your leadership, your vision, and your courage, which you've already shown in your presidency, and congratulate you on the dynamism, the energy, and indeed, the achievements that you have been responsible for.
Your first 70 days in office have changed America and you've changed America's relationship with the world. So I thank you for coming to our country, and I hope you will enjoy your visit with us.
Today we are renewing our special relationship for new times. Ours is not an alliance of convenience, it is a partnership of purpose. It is a partnership that at times of challenge is resilient, and at times of change is constant.
President Obama and I are agreed about the significance of this week's G-20 meeting, that the world is coming together to act in the face of unprecedented global financial times.
Our first duty is to those who are suffering most, the people anxious about their mortgages, their jobs, and their families' future. For them the pain of recession is all too real.
But let us not forget that in 1929, when the Wall Street crash happened and led to recession, it was not until 1945 that the world came together to reshape the world economy.
Then it took more than 15 years. Today, within months of this financial crisis, we are coming together to solve the common problems we face. We are cooperating to shorten the recession. And we are working together to protect and save jobs.
The truth is that today's global problems required global solutions. And at this week's summit, when leaders representing 85 percent of the world's economy are gathering together, this summit cannot simply agree to the lowest common denominator, we must stand united in our determination to do whatever is necessary.
This is an unprecedented financial crisis. People have lost their homes, their jobs, and in some cases, their hope. And President Obama and I are agreed today that the actions we take are global solutions requiring for global problems.
There are really five tests for the G-20 summit, five tests for the world, tests that, if met, will create a new consensus for the world. The speed and scale of global economic change has overwhelmed the national systems of rules and regulations.
So our first test is to agree tougher and more transparent supervision of banks, hedge funds, and what is known as the global shadow banking system. We are both agreed there will be no sustainable recovery until the banks are cleaned out and a new regulatory system is put in place.
The second test is to commit to taking the action necessary to bring about a resumption of growth, push back against a global recession, and support families and businesses.
The third test is to ensure by international economic cooperation and by strengthening our international economic institutions, we support growth in emerging markets and developing countries.
The fourth test is to reject protectionism and kick-start global trade. And I suggest that an absolute minimum of $100 billion trade finance that is so desperately needed.
Fifth, we have an obligation to help the poorest, those most vulnerable but least able to respond to the crisis. By meeting our Millennium Development Goals, and keeping our pledges on aid, both the United Kingdom and the United States are also embarked on a transition to becoming low-carbon economies.
Because the president and I share the conviction that green energy technologies will be the major driver of our future economic growth. And we can create millions of green collar jobs in the world for the future.
Now we have some tough negotiations ahead. It will not be easy, but I know from my talks this week and from my discussions with President Obama today that the world does want to come together, that Britain and America working together can help make this consensus not just something that is agreed on paper, but which truly delivers for people everywhere who are worried about their jobs, and their hopes, and their family budgets.
Today we, the G-20 leaders, will begin our discussions, tomorrow we must make decisions. And that is what we will do.
We've also discussed how we rebuild Afghanistan by complementing our military action with defense, diplomacy, and development, putting new resources into civilian support for the Afghan reconstruction.
The president and I also discussed our hopes that Iran will make the right choice and take advantage of the international community's willingness to negotiate and how we will renew our efforts to deliver security and peace for both the Palestinians and Israel.
Mr. President, I'm honored to be working with you so closely. We share a personal friendship. I believe we can continue to work together for the common good. I repeat, the whole of the United Kingdom is delighted and privileged that you're with us today, thank you.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much, Gordon.
And good morning. I am very pleased to be in London, especially with weather of the sort we're seeing today. And I want to thank Prime Minister Brown for hosting us, for his wife taking Michelle on a tour of some wonderful projects around the city, for his leadership throughout this challenge.
I have to say, it's not just Gordon and Sarah that have been very hospitable. I had a chance to see their two sons. And we talked about dinosaurs a little bit in between discussions of Afghanistan and Iran.
So we've had a wonderful time. And you are to be congratulated, because you have shown extraordinary energy and leadership and initiative in laying the groundwork for this summit.
All of us owe Prime Minister Brown an extraordinary debt of gratitude for his preparations in what I believe will be an historic and essential meeting of the G-20 nations.
Prime Minister Brown and I had a productive discussion this morning. Both of us greatly value the special relationship between our nations. The United States and the United Kingdom have stood together through thick and thin, through war and peace, through hard times and prosperity.
And we've always emerged stronger by standing together. So I'm pleased that my first meeting overseas as president is with Gordon Brown, just as I was pleased to host him in Washington shortly after taking office.
And I know that we both believe that the relationship between our two countries is more than just an alliance of interests. It's a kinship of ideals, and it must be constantly renewed. In our meeting this morning, we covered a complex and wide- ranging agenda. It begins, of course, with the global economy. All of here in London have the responsibility to act with a sense of urgency.
And I think that what Prime Minister Brown spoke about, the human dimensions of this crisis, people losing their homes, losing their businesses that they've worked so hard for, losing their health care in the United States, people around the world who were already desperate before the crisis and may find themselves even more desperate afterwards, that's what our agenda has to begin with, and that's where it will end.
All of us here in London have the responsibility to act with a sense of urgency, and every nation that will be participating has been affected by a crisis that has cost us so much in terms of jobs, savings, and the economic security of our citizens.
So make no mistake, we are facing the most severe economic crisis since World War II, and the global economy is now so fundamentally interconnected that we can only meet this challenge together.
We can't create jobs at home if we're not doing our part to support strong and stable markets around the world. The United States is committed to working alongside the United Kingdom to doing whatever it takes to stimulate growth and demand, and to ensure that a crisis like this never happens again.
At home we're moving forward aggressively on both recovery and reform. We've taken unprecedented action to create jobs and restore the flow of credit. And we've proposed a clear set of tough, new 21st Century rules of the road for all of our financial institutions.
We are lifting ourselves out of this crisis and putting an end to the abuses that got us here. I know that the G-20 nations are appropriately pursuing their own approaches. And as Gordon indicated, we're not going to agree on every point.
I came here to put forward our ideas, but I also came here to listen, not to lecture. Having said that, we must not miss an opportunity to lead, to confront a crisis that knows no borders. We have a responsibility to coordinate our actions and to focus on common ground, not on our occasional differences.
If we do, I believe we can make enormous progress. And that's why in preparation for these meetings I have reached out and consulted with many of the leaders who are here or will be arriving shortly.
History shows us that when nations fail to cooperate, when they turn away from one another, when they turn inward, the price for our people only grows. That's how the Great Depression deepened.
That's a mistake that we cannot afford to repeat. So in the days ahead, I believe we will move forward with a sense of common purpose. We have to do what is necessary to restore growth and to pursue the reforms that can stabilize our financial system well into the future. We have to reject protectionism and accelerate our efforts to support emerging markets. And we have to put in place a structure that can sustain our cooperation in the months and years ahead.
The prime minister and I also covered several other areas of challenge that are fundamental to our common security and prosperity. As he mentioned, we discussed my administration's review of strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a review that benefited greatly from the consultations with our allies.
The city of London, like the United States, was attacked by the al Qaeda terrorists who are still plotting in Pakistan, and we are committed to a focused effort to defeat them.
And I want to repeat something that I said during our last visit together. I want to honor the British troops and their families who are serving alongside our own on behalf of our common security.
We also discussed the progress that was made yesterday at The Hague where more than 70 nations gathered to discuss our mutual responsibilities to partner with the Afghan people so that we can deny al Qaeda a safe haven.
And in the days ahead, we'll consult further with our NATO allies about training Afghan security forces, increasing our civilian support and region approach that recognizes the connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Just a few other points, the prime minister and I share a common commitment to sustain diplomacy on behalf of a secure and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and Israel and the Arab world.
And we're working together to responsibility end the war in Iraq by transitioning to Iraqi responsibility. We're both committed to diplomacy with Iran that offers the Islamic republic the opportunity of a better future if it abandons its nuclear weapons ambitions.
And finally, we discussed two of the other long-term challenges that will define our times, which I will be focused on throughout my trip in Europe: the need for global action to confront climate change, and a renewed effort on behalf of nuclear non-proliferation, which I will be discussing later today with President Medvedev.
Our immediate task, however, is the critical work of confronting the economic crisis, as I've said, we've passed through an era of profound irresponsibility. Now we cannot afford half measures and we cannot go back to the kind of risk-taking that leads to bubbles that inevitably bust.
So we have a choice. We can shape our future or let events shape it for us. And if we want to succeed, we can't fall back on the stale debates and old divides that won't move us forward.
Every single nation who is here has a stake in the other. We won't solve all of our problems in the next few days, but we can make real and unprecedented progress. We have an obligation to keep working at it until the burden on ordinary people is lifted, until we've achieved the kind of steady growth that creates jobs and advances prosperity for people everywhere.
That's the responsibility we bear. That must the legacy of our cooperation. And I'm extraordinarily grateful to Gordon for his friendship and his leadership in mobilizing at a time of such a significant moment.
BROWN: Thank you very much. I said to Barack I was going to introduce him to my friends in the British media, Nick (ph)?
QUESTION: Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed, Nick Robinson (ph), BBC News. A question for you both, if I may.
The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this crisis. France and Germany blame both Britain and America for causing this crisis.
Who is right? And isn't the debate about that at the heart of the debate about what to do now?
OBAMA: I would say that if you look at the sources of this crisis, the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that had taken place in the global financial system.
I think what is also true is that here in Great Britain, in continental Europe, around the world we were seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and the highly integrated global capital markets that had emerged.
So at this point, I'm less interested in identifying blame than fixing the problem. And I think we've taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so, not just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring that banks are adequately capitalized, dealing with the enormous drop out from demand in the contraction that's been taking place.
But more importantly for the long term, making sure that we've got a set of regulations that are up to the task and that includes a number that will be discussed at this summit.
I think there's a lot of convergence between all the parties involved with that, the need for example to focus not on the legal forum, but a particular financial product takes or the institution that it emerges from but rather, what's the risk involved? What's the function of this product and how do we regulate that adequately?
Much more effective coordination between countries, so that we can anticipate some of the risks that are involved, dealing with the problem of derivatives markets and making sure that we've set up systems that can reduce some of the risk there. So I actually think that this enormous consensus that has emerged in terms of what we need to do now and I'm a big believer in looking forward rather than backwards. BROWN: I was in Brazil last week and I think President Lula will forgive me for saying this. He said to me, when I was leader of the trade unions, I blamed the government. When I became leader for the opposition I blamed the government. When I became the government I blamed Europe and America and he recognizes as we do that this is a global problem. It's a global problem that requires a global solution.
What essentially happened is that the speed of the pace and the scope of global financial changes, the mobility of capital to run the world, overwhelmed systems of national regulation. And if we don't accept that that, as the problem that we've got to solve, then we will not solve the problem this week (ph).
This is the problem, to build, cross-border supervision to actually deal with the rules globally that can govern the financial supervision of banks and markets and to root out bad practices that partly existed because of the scope by which - because of the speed by which financial markets moved and the scope that they have to cross national boundaries. So we need global solutions to what is a global problem and I think we will agree a number of measures, as President Obama has said, that will clean up the global financial system.
OBAMA: Just one last point I want to make, because it's relevant to this issue of responsibility versus blame.
I had a professor when I was in law school who said, some are to blame, but all are responsible. And I think that's the best way for us to approach the problem that we have right now. I do think across borders there has been a tendency to believe that whatever the global capital markets were doing was ultimately beneficial.
I am a big believer in global capital markets and their potential to provide capital to countries that might not otherwise be able to grow, the possibilities of increasing living standards in ways that we have not seen previously in world history. But what we have to understand is that that's going to require some sort of regulatory framework to make sure that it doesn't jump the rails. And that I think is something that we're going to be able to put together.
Jennifer Roth (ph) of AP, there you are.
QUESTION: Thank you Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister.
Mr. President, you come here with several kinds of fairly broad challenges to American economic leadership. There's the resistance to big new stimulus spending. There's talk of a global - new global currency, talk of even stricter regulations that are on the table now. How do you answer that and what do you say to the talk that there's a decline in the American model, American prominence?
And to the prime minister if I could, French President Sarkozy said he might walk out of the summit if the regulations that are on the table do not get more strict say on offshore tax havens and on risky financial products. Can you answer that? OBAMA: Well, I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America is on decline. And somehow, it hasn't worked out that way. Because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.
Now with respect to the current crisis, I think that there is no doubt that at a time when the world is fearful that there is a strong tendency to look for somebody to blame. And I think that, given our prominence in the world financial system, it's natural that questions are asked, some of them very legitimate, about how we have participated in global financial markets.
Having said that, I am absolutely confident that this meeting with reflect a consensus (ph) about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems. I think that the separation between the various parties involved has been vastly overstated.
If you look at where there has been the biggest debate and I think that the press has fastened on this as a ongoing narrative, this whole issue of fiscal stimulus and the fact of the matter is that almost every country that's participating in this summit has engaged in fiscal stimulus, that the ones that are perceived as being resistant to fiscal stimulus have done significant fiscal stimulus. There has not been a dispute about the need for government to act in the face of a rapidly contracting set of markets and very high unemployment.
Now, there have been differences in terms of how should that stimulus be shaped. There have been arguments, for example, among some European countries that because they have more of a social safety net, that some of the counter cyclical measures that we took, for example, unemployment insurance, were less necessary for them to take.
But the truth is, is that that's, that's just arguing at the margins. The core notion that government has to take some steps to deal with a contracting global marketplace and that we should be promoting growth, that's not in dispute.
On the regulatory side, this notion that somehow there are those who are pushing for regulation and those who are resisting regulation is belied by the facts. Tim Geithner, who's sitting here today, went before Congress and proposed as aggressive a set of regulatory measures as any that have emerged among G-20 members. That is before we showed up and in conversations that Gordon and I had with our teams, I think there's great symmetry in our belief that even as we deal with the current crisis, we've got to make sure that we're preventing future crises like this from happening again.
On the topic of emerging markets and making sure that they have the finances that they need to weather the storm, poor countries are getting help and they're not being lost in the shuffle. There is complete concurrence.
So I know that when you've got a bunch of heads of state talking, it's not visually that interesting and the communiques are written in sort of dry language and so there's a great desire to inject some conflict and some drama into the occasion. But the truth of the matter is that I think there has been an extraordinary convergence and I'm absolutely confident that the United States as a peer of these other countries, will help to lead us through this very difficult time.
BROWN: Let me also add that I'm confident that President Sarkozy will not only be here for the (INAUDIBLE) but will still be sitting as we complete our dinner this evening.
And I think as President Obama has said, never before has the world come together in this way to deal with an economic (ph) crisis. And it's a crisis that we've seen since the second world war. You have not had this level of international cooperation and never before has the world come together with so many countries represented from so many different continents to address this crisis so that we have China. We have India. We have Argentina, Brazil. We have South Africa. We have Russia as well as Europe and America and Japan.
And we are within a few hours I think of agreeing a global plan for economic recovery and reform. And I think the significance of this is that we're looking at every aspect. It is American leadership in reshaping the financial system of recapitalizing the banks and restructuring the banking system that will form our discussions on the future of the financial system.
So, I praise President Obama for the work that has been done within only a few days of coming into office.
But we will also be discussing how we can help the emerging markets and the industrializing countries, how they can be protected against the financial storm that is facing them. We will not forget that we have obligations to the poorest countries in the world as well.
And so the significance of this is not just that everybody's coming together, but in all those different dimensions of the economic activity of the world, how we can restructure the financial system, how we can get growth back and create jobs in the world, how we can rebuild our financial institutions for the future, how we can help the poorest countries of the world, how we can move forward (INAUDIBLE) you're going to see action.
And of course it's difficult. Of course it's complex. You have a large number of countries, but I'm very confident that people not only want to work together but we can agree on a common global plan for recovery and reform.
QUESTION: Tom Bradley (ph), (INAUDIBLE) news.
Mr. President, I hear what you say, but you committed a vast sum of your country's money to a huge fiscal stimulus and we had the clear impression that you wanted other countries to come in behind you a bit more strongly. It appears that we've been told by the governor of the Bank of England, we can't do more for the moment and the French and the Germans won't.
Are you disappointed by that and are you actually still call on other countries to go further?
OBAMA: Well, as I said before, I think that there's broad recognition that in the midst of the worst crisis we've seen since the '30s. That governments are going to have to act and certainly, the United States does not intend to act alone and we're not. Gordon has taken serious steps. The European Union has taken serious steps. Australia, Canada, Japan, China, have all initiated significant stimulus packages and I think that our goal is simply to make certain that each country, taking into account its differences in economic circumstances as well as political culture is doing what is necessary to promote economic growth.
The United States will do its share, but I think that one of the things that Gordon and I spoke about is the fact that in some ways the world has become accustomed to the United States being a fallacious consumer market and the engine that drives a lot of economic growth worldwide. And I think that in the wake of this crisis, even as we're doing stimulus, we have to take into account our own deficits. We're going to have to take into account a whole host of factors that can increase or savings rate and start dealing with our long-term fiscal position as well as our current account deficits.
Those are all issues that we have to deal with internally, which means that if there's going to be renewed growth, it can't just be the United States as the engine. Everybody's going to have to pick up the pace and I think that there's a recognition based on the conversations that I've had with leaders around the world but that is important.
I should add by the way that to the extent that all countries are participating and promoting growth, that also strengthens the arguments that we can make in our respective countries about the importance of world trade, the sense that this isn't a situation where each country is only exporting and never importing, but rather that there's a balance in how we approach these issues and again, I've actually been pleased with the degree to which there's common agreement on that front.
BROWN: Tom, if you were asking this question in a situation where America had done a fiscal stimulus and no other country except Britain had followed it, then your question would have some legitimacy.
But look what has happened around the world in the last few months as country after country have contributed to the biggest fiscal stimulus, the biggest injection of resources, the biggest amount of new investment provided by governments into the world economy in the history of the world and we are in the midst of the biggest fiscal boost that the world economy has ever had.
And so Germany has invested $80 billions. France invested $25 billions. We've invested - other countries in the European have invested. Different countries have their different times for announcing their decisions. Some will do it in their budgets. Some will do it by financial statements.
The combination of all of this, as you will see when you get our communique tomorrow, is the most substantial fiscal stimulus, something on the order of $2 trillion, indeed more than that. And that is the world coming together to cut interest rates, the world coming together to give a boost to the economy and of course the world coming together to deal with the other problem which is restructuring our financial systems for the future.
And I think it is remarkable that things that people could not have thought possible 10 years ago, even five years ago, that you have this coordinated action from all the countries, it is remarkable this is happening and of course, we want to push it forward tomorrow and I believe we will.
OBAMA: Where's Karen? There she is. Hi, Karen (ph).
QUESTION: You mentioned you (ph) will be meeting later with Russian President Medvedev. What are your aims for that meeting and could you elaborate on this idea of resetting U.S./ Russian relations and also does that mean as Russia hopes, that you're willing to give ground on issues like missile defense and NATO expansion?
OBAMA: Well, this will be the first time that I'm meeting with President Medvedev. I'm very much looking forward to the meeting. We've had a series of conversations on the telephone, exchanged letters.
As I spoke about during the campaign, as Secretary of State Clinton has amplified in some of her remarks and her meetings with top Russian officials, what we've seen over the last several years is drift in the U.S./ Russian relationship. There are very real differences between the United States and Russia and I have no interest in papering those over.
But there are also a broad set of common interests that we can pursue. Both countries I believe have an interest in reducing nuclear stockpiles and promoting nuclear nonproliferation. Both countries have an interest in reducing the threat of terrorism. Both countries have an interest in stabilizing the world economy. Both countries have an interest in finding a sustainable path for energy and dealing with some of the threats of climate change that we've discussed.
So on a whole range of issues from Afghanistan to Iran, to the topics that will be consuming most of our time here at the G-20, I think there's great potential for concerted action and that's what we will be pursuing.
Now as is, I think, been noted in the press, a good place to start is the issue of nuclear proliferation and one of the things that I've always believed strongly is that both the United States and Russia and other nuclear powers will be in a much stronger position to strength what has become a somewhat fragile threadbare nonproliferation treaty. If we are leading by example and if we can take serious steps to reduce the nuclear arsenal. I think people on both sides of the Atlantic understand that as much as the constant cloud, the threat of nuclear warfare has receded since the cold war, that the presence of these deadly weapons, their proliferation, the possibility of them finding their way into the hands of terrorists continues to be the gravest threat to humanity. What better project to start off than seeing if we can make progress on that front. I think we can.
QUESTION: Both of you today have conjured the alarming specter of the Great Depression, but let's take more optimistic hopes for this summit. Assuming you're successful, what millions of people around the world want to know is, how much worse is this going to get and how long is it going to last and when's it going to end and growth return?
BROWN: It'll get worse if people do not act. The option of doing nothing is not available to us and I think we've seen from past crises both internationally and in regions of the world that if people fail to take the decisive action at the beginning, then they risk a longer recession. You risk more businesses being lost. You risk more jobs lost.
So, of course, these are difficult decisions because governments are moving in where markets have failed and banks have collapsed. But to take these decisions is the right course for the world economy.
Now, I believe that the degree of international cooperation that we can get will determine how quickly all our economies can recover. If there is stimulus in one country and it's repeated in another country and repeated in other countries, then you can magnify the effect of what that stimulus around the world, both for the benefit of the individual country that's making it and for the rest of the world.
And if you can see the coordinated cuts in interest rates coming together, then you've got a push for recovery and for new economic activity.
And if you can see the balance which operates internationally being cleaned up in every country, then you have a situation where the world will feel confident and there will be trust in the banking system for people to resume saving, investing and preparing for the future.
So, I believe the level of international cooperation will be one of the major factors that we determine how quickly we can recover. But what we are determined to do is, in this difficult time, protect people in their jobs, make sure that we can get money to mortgage holders and to business and of course make sure that countries that are in peril at the moment who don't have the resources and are unable to restructure their banking systems are given resources from the world to enable them to do so.
So the way forward is not to do nothing. The way forward is to take the action that's necessary.
OBAMA: I agree with everything that Gordon said.
It has been said repeatedly that every financial crisis comes to an end, so it will come to an end at some point. The question is, what had been the costs and how long the downturn.
I think people should take heart from the fact that governments had learned lessons from the '30s. Central banks had learned lessons from the '30s. There has been much swifter action, much bolder action, much more coordinated action even prior to this summit than we have seen in previous financial crises and that means that the prospect of restoring world growth and trade are that much greater (ph).
I do think that Gordon's absolutely right. How well we execute in the months to come, how well we fund down (ph) these regulations, how well we each in our own respective countries help banks to deal with the imperiled assets that they have on their books and they can start lending again to businesses and consumers, how effective we are in managing huge outpours of capital from emerging markets and provide a platform (ph) for very poor and developing countries that are seeing huge contractions in their trade and just don't have a lot of margin for error, how well we reform our international financial institutions so that they can be a more effective player in this whole process. And all those things will help determine whether this ends up being a slow rolling crisis that takes a lot more time to cure or whether we start seeing significant recovery.
I don't think there's any doubt that 2009 is going to be difficult. And again, when we put a human face on this crisis, the way people experience it most immediately is losing their job, losing their home, losing their savings, losing their pensions.
And what I think each of us is committed to doing is to make sure that people are getting immediate help, even as we're solving these broader structural problems. Because we don't want that kind of suffer (ph), but it's also not good for the overall health of the economic system. And that's part of where the stimulus has been very helpful.
I mean in my own country, the unemployment insurance, the food stamps, the other mechanisms that have put money directly into peoples' pockets, that not just good for those individual families. It's also helped to lift consumer spending or at least stabilize consumer spending in a way that will promise better growth in the future. (INAUDIBLE)
QUESTION: Mr. President, you just spoke about looking forward and not backward and you also referenced the voracious appetite of the American consumer. What role should the European and American consumer then play in the quarter that starts today? Should they be spending or saving to alter the velocity of what you just called a slow going crisis?
OBAMA: Well, I think that each family has got to look at its circumstances and make those determinations. Obviously, there are a lot of people who are concerned about their job security or they're concerned about seeing their savings having diminished if they were in the stock market and I think it's an understandable response to be somewhat cautious in the midst of this kind of uncertainty.
I think the best advice I would have would be to say that despite the current hardships, we are going to get through this and so you should plan sensibly in anticipation that this economy is going to recover and new- young families are going to buy new homes and sooner or later that clunker of a car is going to wear out and people are going to want to buy a new car. So that basing decisions around fear is not the right way to go.
We are going to get through this difficult time. And I think it is sometimes important to step back and just have some perspective about the differences between now and the Great Depression, when there were no social safety nets in place, when unemployment was 25 or 30 percent. And this is a difficult time, but it's not what happened to our grandparents' generation. And so I would ask people to be confident about their own futures and that may mean in some cases spending now as investments for the future.
There's been a debate back home about our budget. In the midst of this crisis, should we deal with health care? Should we deal with energy? Should we deal with education?
And one of the analogies I've used is, a family who is having a difficult time -- and I actually get letters like this occasionally from voters. If one of our parents has lost their job, savings have declined and so I'm wrestling with whether or not I should go to college because that will require me taking out a lot of debt and maybe it would be more responsible for me to go find any job that I can to help the family.
And when I write back to those families or those individuals, I say, you've obviously got to make these decisions yourself, but don't short change the future, because of fear in the present.
Now that I think is the most important message that we can send, not just in the United States, but around the world.
BROWN: Barack is absolutely right. Surely the most important thing is that people, by the decisions they make can have confidence in the future, confidence to be able to make decisions about whether to save or to spend.
And all the measures that we are taking, restructuring the balance, putting money into the economy, the public works and of course the (INAUDIBLE) carbon activities that we're encouraging as well are designed to give people the confidence that their savings are safe. That we've sorted out the problems and are sorting out the problems in the banking system. But we have picked (ph) resources into economic activity in the economy so that jobs can be saved and jobs can be created. And then people, as consumers, can make their own decisions about what they want to do.
And I think that's the key to the future, that people can see that the problems are being addressed and that they themselves can have the confidence either to save or to spend or to invest, have confidence in the future and I believe that we can make a big step towards creating that confidence by some of the decisions that we make together.