Obama extends diplomacy on G-20 eve

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LONDON — President Obama plunged into a whirlwind of international diplomacy Wednesday on the eve of the G-20 summit, meeting with world leaders throughout the day and closing the afternoon with a private meeting at Buckingham Palace.

Mr. Obama pledged to lead the world out of its economic crisis and agreed in his first meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to seek a new treaty on nuclear disarmament before the end of the year.

He also pledged closer economic cooperation with China and rejected suggestions of an unworkable divide between G-20 leaders.

Mr. Obama began the day at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, saying the economic crisis presented an opportunity for leadership that the United States would seize, along with other countries.

“Basing decisions around fear is not the right way to go,” he said. “We are going to get through this difficult time.”

Outside, thousands of protesters rallied in the streets against capitalism and homelessness and demanded more environmentally friendly initiatives.

Large groups smashed windows, entered the Royal Bank of Scotland building and wrestled with police at barricades.

Protesters have directed much of their anger at the United States, where they see bankers as greedy and the federal government as remiss for not being vigilant enough over U.S. financial markets.

The summit marks Mr. Obama’s first time on the international stage, where he is expected to face criticism from inside the meetings, too. Critics say Mr. Obama has used too much U.S. taxpayer money to spend his country out of the global recession and that they will not be forced to do the same.

The most vociferous opposition to calls by the United States and Britain to increase fiscal stimulus packages is coming from France and Germany.

“As things stand at the moment, these projects do not suit France or Germany,” French President Nicholas Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio.

Mr. Obama, whose administration has promised to inject new life into strained U.S.-Russia relations, met in the afternoon with Mr. Medvedev.

“As I’ve said in the past, I think that over the last several years the relationship between our two countries has been allowed to drift,” Mr. Obama said. “And what I believe we’ve begun today is a very constructive dialogue that will allow us to work on issues of mutual interest, like the reduction of nuclear weapons and the strengthening of our nonproliferation treaties; our mutual interest in dealing with terrorism and extremism that threatens both countries; our mutual interest in economic stability and restoring growth around the world; our mutual interest in promoting peace and stability in areas like the Middle East.”

The president also said he accepted Mr. Medvedev’s invitation to visit Moscow in July.

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