Obama heads to Europe for G-20

By Emily Ngo

President Barack Obama stepped onto the global stage yesterday, landing in London to help coordinate an international response to the wide-reaching economic crisis.

In his first trip overseas as president, Obama faces a chilly reception by some world leaders who blame Wall Street’s role in the recession and disapprove of U.S. policies for fighting it. Others, however, will welcome his celebrity and diplomacy, especially following the Bush administration.

“We’re gathering the G-20 at a time of the most severe economic crisis in generations,” said Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economics. “The stakes for this summit are very high."The G-20 — a meeting of the world’s leading and fastest-developing economies — will attempt to balance stimulus spending with financial regulation. Obama and Gordon Brown, the British prime minister and host of the summit, are among those who promote government spending to jolt the economy, while some European powers, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, favor restraint in fear of inflation.

“Leaders meeting in London must supply the oxygen of confidence to today’s global economy,” Gordon said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy emphasized that progress must be made at the daylong meeting that officially begins tomorrow. “We have to obtain results, there is no choice, the crisis is too serious to allow us to have a summit for nothing,” he said.

This week will also mark Obama’s first face-off with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — who opposes U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe —and Chinese leader Hu Jintao, who wants alternatives to the U.S. dollar as the primary reserve currency.

The president’s eight-day, five-country visit will also take him to a NATO meeting in Strasbourg, France; an EU summit in Prague, Czech Republic; and to Turkey, the first visit of his presidency to a Muslim nation. (With AP and The Washington Post)

Tags: politics

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