G-20 Members Roll Up Sleeves, Get To Work The G-20 economic summit officially is under way in London. Leaders from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas are attending. President Obama is expected to try to push leaders to commit to bigger stimulus packages from individual countries. Leaders from France and Germany do not agree with that plan.

G-20 Members Roll Up Sleeves, Get To Work

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On a Thursday morning, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.


Good morning.

DON GONYEA: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Don, let's begin with what the G-20 leaders are up to today. I guess they're meeting at a highly secure area there in London.

GONYEA: They're out by the London docks at a big, cavernous convention center called the ExCel Centre, and there are facilities set up there. They're basically holding group working sessions, you know, kind of rolling up the sleeves - though I actually think they're all leaving their jackets on - and having discussion of how to proceed, what this organization - the G-20, these leading economic countries - should be doing to specifically address the economic crises. There will, by day's end, we expect - and I think we can count on - some sort of an official communique. The question will be - you know, exactly what it says. Is it kind of a bland document, or does it call for very specific, concrete steps?

MONTAGNE: Well, there have been, as we've been hearing, some pretty sharp differences between the US and its long-time allies, Germany and France, over how the G-20 should address the world's economic troubles - you know, demands for tougher regulations and some sort of agreement on those regulations. Have these leaders had a chance to really sit down and talk?

GONYEA: In advance of this summit, they have met, but they have not had private, one- on-one meetings, the president and each of these two leaders, from France and from Germany. So far, we've just been kind of watching the body language. We get video of these group sessions that are underway, but they're not on the record. We're not getting audio. We can't tell what people are saying. It's a little bit like being a fly positioned on a far wall of the room. So everything seems cordial, and certainly, President Obama is speaking to each. But we don't know the substance of that at this point.

MONTAGNE: Let's talk for a moment about another US ally, South Korea. President Obama met with South Korea's president, Lee. The talk was about more than the economy. Here's a clip from Mr. Obama.

BARACK OBAMA: So, we are very interested in discussing the economic crisis, which is the topic of the G-20 meeting. But obviously, we also have a great range of issues to discuss on defense, on peace and stability in the Korean peninsula, on the outstanding contributions that Korea has made with respect to the Afghanistan situation.

MONTAGNE: Very carefully worded. What do you know, Don, about that discussion?

GONYEA: It was willfully void of any inflection, which is how these photo-ops go. They don't news at them unless they really want to. But then we get briefings off-camera from senior aides, who are perhaps a little more animated, a little more specific. And we did hear from the South Koreans, that they did have, Presidents Lee and Mr. Obama, a substantive discussion about this North Korean missile test that could happen, you know, by this weekend, or perhaps even sooner. And the South Koreans said that there is an agreement between South Korea and the US for a, quote, "stern, united international response" if North Korea goes ahead with that. Then we heard from an aide to President Obama, who said that it would be a violation of Security Counsel resolutions, and that they are watching it very closely. So that really was the big topic there.

MONTAGNE: And on the summit, more generally, final day of meetings in London. What does President Obama hope to take away from it?

GONYEA: Well, certainly, he's not getting everything he had hoped. He's not getting the big commitment for more economic stimulus, but he will be happy with tougher regulations on banks and hedge funds and the like. Mostly, though, he is establishing a presence on the world stage. These other leaders are getting a sense of how Mr. Obama operates, much as Washington and Congress have. He's establishing, you know, personal relationships, and he secured invites for later in the year to visit both Russia and China.

MONTAGNE: Well, Don, thanks very much.

GONYEA: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Don Gonyea, speaking to us from the G-20 Summit in London.

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