London G20 summit underway

02-04-2009

London G20 summit underway
World leaders have arrived at London's ExCel centre for the final day of the G20 summit.

The heads of state arrived at the Docklands this morning to begin talks ahead of a final press conference in the afternoon.

Gordon Brown had initially hoped to agree on a global new deal to combat the recession, but despite staunch support from United States president Barack Obama, European opposition makes such an outcome impossible.

But although French president Nicolas Sarkozy had threatened to refuse to sign the communiqué if it included plans for new fiscal stimuli, Mr Brown remained confident on Thursday that an agreement was "hours away".

At a joint press conference with President Obama after closed door talks at No 10, the prime minister said yesterday: "The world does want to come together. Britain and America working together can help reach consensus - not just something that is reached on paper but something that can help people everywhere."

Mr Obama, fast-emerging as the UK prime minister's strongest-ally at the summit, added: "All of us here in London have a responsibility to act with a sense of urgency and I think what Gordon spoke about - the human dimension of this crisis… that's what our agenda has to begin with and that's where it will end."

Leaders will hold two sessions at ExCel, some alongside their delegation's finance ministers.

This morning business secretary Peter Mandelson hinted substantial resources are to be devoted to international trade following the summit.

The former European Union trade commissioner said "a lot of progress" had been achieved at the Doha trade round in the last four years.

Speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in London, he said the trade round would "resume again" and lead to "final eventual success".

"We will see today the commitment being made," he predicted.

The talks had been threatened to be overshadowed by mass protests in London's financial district on Wednesday.

Over 80 people were arrested during a series of protests in the capital's centre.

Smaller-scale events are planned outside ExCel on Thursday, where security is expected to be extremely tight.

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