Economic Woes Dominate Obama-Brown Talks

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks during his monthly news conference Feb. 18 in London. i i

hide captionBritain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks during his monthly news conference Feb. 18 in London.

Kieran Doherty/WPA Pool/Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks during his monthly news conference Feb. 18 in London.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks during his monthly news conference Feb. 18 in London.

Kieran Doherty/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday that confidence in the international banking system can be restored and the global economy turned around if nations cooperate in establishing new and better standards of accountability.

Brown, who is in Washington this week to meet with President Obama and address a joint meeting of Congress, told NPR's Steve Inskeep that the financial crisis is "a global problem. It needs global solutions."

"There is a global banking collapse that we're dealing with consequences of in every country," Brown said. The British leader has in recent weeks invoked former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in calling for a "global New Deal" to fix the world economy.

"I think there is a general understanding, whether you talk to China, whether you talk to the European Union or you talk to our great friends here in America, that we need to show that the world can come together," he said.

A fiscal stimulus alone is not enough, Brown said. The international community needs to set standards "that if people are not able to meet, we would have a mechanism by which we would say, 'Look, this is not good enough,' and people would lose their status in the international community."

Brown, who also has served as Britain's finance minister, is to meet Obama at the White House later Tuesday. They will discuss the crisis that has plunged the U.S. and many other nations into a deepening recession and financial market turmoil.

"This is a banking crisis, so we've got to get to the roots of it. And, we've got to clean up the banking system, and I think most people are agreed on that," Brown said.

To do that, "cross-border supervision" of banking may be needed, he said.

Brown is the first European leader to meet Obama since the president took office on Jan. 20. The prime minister's visit will include an Oval Office meeting and lunch at the White House. Brown will also deliver a speech Wednesday to Congress, where he plans to call on countries to avoid trade protectionism.

The two leaders were also to discuss ways to tighten lax financial regulations ahead of the Group of 20 summit of developed and emerging economies in London on April 2.

Brown and Obama met last July when Obama visited London during a European tour while he was still a Democratic presidential candidate.

The White House has been careful to emphasize the need for Britain and America to work together to solve the financial crisis and to restore stability in Afghanistan, where the security situation has been deteriorating.

"We're undertaking a review, just as President Obama is undertaking a review," Brown said. "We can't solve the problem of Afghanistan without looking at what's happening in Pakistan."

Britain has the second-largest number of troops in Afghanistan after the United States, with more than 8,000 deployed in the region where Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents continue to mount almost daily attacks against international forces.

"We need to think first of all how we can deal with the terrorists that are located in Pakistan that may have come across the border," Brown told NPR. "Secondly, we've got to build a stronger government in Afghanistan."

From NPR staff and wire reports.

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