President Obama arrived Tuesday in London for a two-day meeting with world leaders that is intended to help deal with the worst global economic downturn since the 1930s.
The G-20 summit of 19 key nations and the European Union will be Obama's first major foray onto the global stage after dealing largely with domestic issues since his inauguration in January. International leaders hope to come up with a strategy for stabilizing the financial markets and enabling families and businesses to survive the recession.
"The president and America are going to listen in London, as well as to lead," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
A G-20 report said leaders hope to come up with a plan to strengthen the global financial and economic system and put the global economy on a path for sustainable growth.
But the world economy has continued to decline since the countries met in November to set goals for international cooperation. Trade is deteriorating, and unemployment has risen in the U.S. and other countries.
In London, street demonstrations have increased, and widespread protests were expected during the summit.
Using his $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program as a model, Obama is expected to urge other countries to put more government resources into recovery efforts. But the president could have a tough sell because many countries blame lax financial regulation in the United States for the global meltdown and are worried that excessive spending could trigger inflation.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also pushed for more stimulus spending, while other European nations are pushing for tougher financial regulation.
Obama also plans to urge European countries to send more troops and resources to Afghanistan. Last week, the president announced a plan for fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It includes sending 4,000 troops to train Afghan security forces. Obama and U.S. military leaders have said that other countries need to shoulder more of the burden.
In addition to the G-20 meeting, Obama is scheduled for private talks with Brown, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, the presidents of Russia and China, and other leaders.
After the G-20 meeting ends, the president plans to go to the French-German border for a NATO summit before stopping in the Czech Republic and Turkey.
When Obama went to Europe last summer as a senator seeking the presidency, he was greeted by enormous and enthusiastic crowds. He remains highly popular in Europe.
Since taking office, Obama has made down payments on several campaign promises that had endeared him to Europe, such as addressing global warming and moving to end the Iraq war and close the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
From NPR and wire service reports