Obama sees G20 consensus, France unhappy

Wed Apr 1, 2009 1:02pm EDT
 
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By Caren Bohan and Sumeet Desai

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday there was "enormous consensus" between the largest developed and emerging economies on plans to haul the world out of the deepest downturn since the 1930s.

Obama played down any differences with France and Germany, which insist that the summit of G20 countries agrees on measures to tighten financial regulation and crack down on tax havens rather than simply renewing their promises to do so.

Demonstrators clashed with riot police and smashed bank windows in London's financial center in protest against a system they said had robbed the poor to benefit the rich.

Hundreds of protesters converged on a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, shattering windows. Rescued by the government in October, RBS has become a lightning rod for public anger over banker excess blamed for the crisis.

Obama, making his first official visit to Europe, said G20 nations at Thursday's summit were not going to agree on every point but pushed aside suggestions the summit would falter because countries were split over the importance of regulation versus new stimulus packages.

"The core notion that government has to take some steps to deal with a contracting global market place and that we should be promoting growth -- that's not in dispute," Obama said at a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

"On the regulatory side, this notion that somehow there are those who are pushing for regulation and those who are resisting regulation is belied by the facts."

The stakes are high, with the world economy set to shrink this year for the first time since World War Two and tens of millions of people losing their jobs.   Continued...

 
<p>A demonstrator uses a piece of advertising hoarding to break a window of a bank in London April 1, 2009. Demonstrators clashed with riot police and smashed bank windows in Britain's financial centre on Wednesday ahead of a G20 meeting in protest against a system they said had robbed the poor to benefit the rich. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>