- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 19, 2008

President Bush on Saturday said he will host a summit of world leaders in the near future to address the global financial turmoil and discuss ways to prevent a future crisis.

Mr. Bush announced the summit at a Camp David meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

“Given that the world has never been more interconnected, it is essential that we work together because we’re in this crisis together,” Mr. Bush said while standing with the two European leaders.

In a joint statement issued after their visit of more than 2[1/2] hours, the three leaders said they would contact other nations this week about having a summit in the United States soon after the presidential elections next month to address the current crisis and reach “agreement on principles of reform needed to avoid a repetition of the problems and assure global prosperity in the future.”

A series of subsequent summits, the three leaders said, would try to reach agreements on how to do this.

The meetings are expected to include the Group of Eight industrialized powers and other emerging economies such as China and India, with Mr. Bush saying “both developed and developing nations will be represented.”

Mr. Bush did not set a date or place for the meeting, although Mr. Sarkozy suggested it be held before the end of November in New York.

“We must not waste any time,” said Mr. Sarkozy, adding that the global crisis demands a “worldwide solution” and warning that “we must not give way to fatalism.”

Mr. Bush and Mr. Sarkozy agreed that any solutions to curing the financial market ills must also protect the free market system.

“We must resist the dangerous temptation of economic isolationism and continue the policies of open markets that have lifted standards of living and helped millions of people escape poverty around the world,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush has backed the steps European nations have taken to stem the economic crisis. But the U.S. hasn’t signed on to the more ambitious, broad-stroke revisions that some European leaders such as Mr. Sarkozy have in mind for the world financial system.

Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Barroso were stopping at Camp David to meet with Mr. Bush on their way home from a summit of French-speaking nations in Quebec City, Canada.

At the summit, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered Saturday to host an emergency G-8 summit at New York’s United Nations Secretariat to discuss the global financial crisis.

“I strongly believe that holding the summit at the United Nations, the symbol of multilateralism, will lend universal legitimacy to this endeavor and demonstrate a collective will to face this serious global challenge,” he said.

Mr. Bush, in his weekly radio address Saturday, sought to reassure Americans about the cost and scope of the nation’s financial bailout plan and said that in the long run “our economy will bounce back.”

“The federal government has responded to this crisis with systematic and aggressive measures to protect the financial security of the American people,” he said. “These actions will take more time to have their full impact. But they are big enough and bold enough to work.”

Congress gave the Bush administration the right to buy up to $700 billion worth of bad assets from banks and other institutions to shore up the financial industry. Since Oct. 9, 2007, when the Dow topped 14,000, investors have lost $8.3 trillion from pension funds, college savings plans, 401(k)s and other investments.

Mr. Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have used the recent global financial crisis to press for major changes in the international economic order dominated by the United States.

At a summit of European leaders last week in Brussels, Mr. Brown and Mr. Sarkozy pushed for reforms of the world’s financial regulatory structure and for new restrictions on speculation, tax havens and hedge funds, which the Bush administration has resisted.

The French president has sharply criticized U.S.-based credit ratings agencies that, he said, had failed to flag huge assets and credit problems on the books of the world’s banks and major investment houses.

“Do we keep them? What do we replace them with? Should they only be American?” Mr. Sarkozy asked.

Although heading a center-right government, Mr. Sarkozy has long been skeptical of “Anglo-Saxon capitalism,” which favors deregulation and less government intervention in the marketplace. Many in Europe see the recent string of government-funded bank bailouts - including the Bush administration’s $700 billion package - as only the latest sign that a new international economic order is needed.

Mr. Sarkozy on Friday repeated his call to overhaul the global financial system so that it can be better supervised in the wake of the crisis.

“Together we need to rebuild a capitalism that is more respectful to man, more respectful to the planet, more respectful to future generations and be finished with a capitalism obsessed by the frantic search for short-term profit,” he said.

France on Monday said it was putting up $491 billion in guarantees to bolster French banks and encourage new lending.

“We had the emerging market crisis, we had the Internet bubble, now we have this massive crisis,” Mr. Sarkozy said in Brussels. European Union nations are united, he added, in calling for the “re-foundation of the international financial system.”

Mr. Brown, who engineered a British bank bailout that the U.S. and other countries have largely accepted as a model, is pushing a plan for regulators in the world’s major economies to coordinate their oversight of the biggest financial firms. He has also pushed for major changes in how the World Bank and International Monetary Fund operate.

David R. Sands contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.



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