By Martin Weil and Marissa Newhall
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 15, 2008
President Bush welcomed visiting heads of state to the White House last night for a dinner held on the eve of a financial summit prompted by global economic distress.
Last night's event, designed to help cope with the crisis, actually added to Washington's pain for a time: Street-clogging convoys of limousines aggravated the city's rush-hour traffic congestion.
Carefully orchestrated, the arrivals of the international leaders at the North Portico began at 5:55 p.m. They continued until the Brazil delegation made its appearance about 80 minutes later.
The gathering inside the mansion was described as a "working dinner." It was intended to be relatively informal, conducted without spouses and with less pomp and ceremony than characterizes state and official occasions.
The guests were the leaders of the G20, which consists of the important industrialized and developing economies. Joining them were heads of key international financial organizations.
The official menu included fruitwood-smoked quail, thyme-roasted rack of lamb and baked Vermont brie with walnut crostini, along with three wines.
In his toast in the State Dining Room, Bush said the financial crisis "did not develop overnight, and it will not be solved overnight."
To the leaders from North and South and from both hemispheres, he emphasized a global outlook. He urged recognition of global economic interdependence and a resistance to any calls for protectionism.
In a statement, the White House said the leaders "had a good, productive meeting."