- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama telephoned the leaders of Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Argentina on Friday to discuss working together on the world’s economic crisis, among other issues.

Obama will see three of those leaders _ from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Argentia _ at the Group of 20 nations summit next month in London focused on the global financial meltdown.

The White House said Obama’s conversation with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also touched on education, health care, climate change, counterterrorism and bird flu.

The two leaders also discussed Obama’s commitment to forging a new relationship with Islamic countries. At the end of his European trip next month, Obama is scheduled to visit Turkey, a Muslim country where relations with the U.S. were strained by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He also has pledged to deliver a major speech in a Muslim nation early in his presidency.

They also talked about how to make progress on democracy and human rights in Burma.

Obama and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, another G-20 country and longtime U.S. ally in the Middle East, spoke about coordinating international efforts to restore economic growth. The White House said they also agreed on the importance of maintaining a strong U.S.-Saudi relationship to promote peace and security in the region.

In his conversation with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Obama commended her country’s efforts against terrorism and in modernizing the armed forces. They also talked about cooperating on other issues, including climate change and education, the White House said.

Obama and Arroyo also reaffirmed their commitment to the long-standing U.S.-Philippine alliance, including the Visiting Forces Agreement, a bilateral pact that governs the conduct of U.S. forces in the country.

With Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez, Obama spokesman Mike Hammer said the president discussed the upcoming London meeting and how to work together to resolve the global financial crisis. They also talked about how to ensure a successful Summit of the Americas in April, being held in Trinidad and Tobago.

Obama thanked her for Argentina’s leadership in fighting terrorism in the region and for its efforts to bring stability to Haiti, Hammer said.

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