- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Leaders of the world’s rich and developing countries sought to dispel the clouds over the world’s sinking economy _ and clear up divisions over financial regulation _ at a crisis summit Thursday in London.

President Barack Obama, his helicopter grounded by the fog, arrived by car at the ExCel center in the city’s Docklands district for the Group of 20 leaders summit. Obama smiled and slapped the host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on the shoulder as the two headed inside.

The two allies have expressed confidence that world leaders will come up with a strong agreement to address financial regulation, growth, and troubled banks. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have refused calls for more government spending, and said the meeting must take concrete steps on tougher financial regulation.

Sarkozy toned down his earlier threat to walk out, and Obama could be seen chatting informally with Merkel at a leaders dinner of slow-roasted Welsh lamb on Wednesday evening.

Obama has acknowledged that U.S. regulatory failures contributed to the crisis in the financial system, but urged a focus on solutions, saying “We can only meet this challenge together.”

He added that differences in the grouping had been “vastly overstated” and downplayed an earlier U.S. push for bigger government spending by European governments, praising their efforts instead.

Brown foreshadowed agreement on issues including a possible $100 billion boost in financing needed to keep global trade moving, and support for economic growth and job creation. G-20 leaders are also in general agreement on a plan to boost the funds available to the International Monetary Fund to help out emerging countries.

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