U.S., European Leaders Form Financial Crisis Summit

Oct. 20, 2008
Date and location still to be determined.

U.S. and European leaders have agreed to hold a series of summits to reform the global financial system to make it more resilient and ensure continued prosperity in the world.

President Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement released after their talks Oct. 18 that the first summit would be held in the United States "soon after the U.S. elections" on Nov. 4.

The world leaders will "review progress being made to address the current crisis and to seek agreement on principles of reform needed to avoid a repetition and assure global prosperity in the future," it added.

Later summits "would be designed to implement agreement on specific steps to be taken to meet those principles," the statement read.

The first of the summits will likely be held in November, but Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, did not give a date.

According to the joint statement, the three leaders "had a very positive discussion" about continuing to coordinate steps needed to solve the financial crisis.

Bush, stressed the importance of preserving "the foundations of democratic capitalism -- the commitment to free markets, free enterprise and free trade."

Fratto said that a location for the first summit had not been determined, though Sarkozy recommended New York, where the crisis began.

Fratto said that Bush, Sarkozy and Barroso proposed a series of summits because it was "too ambitions" to think that the crisis could be solved in one single meeting.

The European leaders are seeking to overhaul the Bretton Woods system that has governed international finance since the end of World War II, and launch a new system.

"You have a lot of people talking about Bretton Woods," said Fratto. "Bretton Woods was a three-week conference that involved 44 countries at a time when there were a lot fewer countries in the world," he said.

The first summit would be "to discuss the current financial crisis and also to set forth principles that would guide the future follow on," he said.

Of course by then participants "would be interested in the views and the input of whoever the president-elect is," he added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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