By Michael D. Shear and William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 2, 2009 3:42 PM
LONDON, April 2 -- President Obama on Thursday hailed the just-concluded summit meeting of the world's major economies as a "turning point" in the pursuit of global economic recovery but cautioned that the steps they agreed to take are "not enough" and that additional measures might be required at future gatherings.
In a news conference after the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations issued a communique pledging to make $1 trillion available to stimulate the global economy, Obama said the summit "was historic because of the size and scope of the challenges we face, and because of the timeliness and magnitude of our response." He said the world's leaders "have responded today with an unprecedented set of comprehensive and coordinated actions" intended to "restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again."
He lauded the summit participants' agreement to aid developing countries, battle protectionism and comprehensively reform "a failed regulatory system" governing financial institutions.
"It's hard for 20 heads of state to bridge their differences," Obama said. "We've all got our own national policies, our own assumptions and our own politics. But our citizens are hurting. They need us to come together."
He said he was pleased that the G-20 leaders agreed to meet again in the fall because "our problems are not going to be solved in one or two meetings." He called for persistence in monitoring progress to determine whether further action is needed.
"The challenges of the 21st century cannot be met without collective action," Obama said. "Agreement will almost never be easy, and results won't always come quickly. But I am committed to respecting different points of view and to forging a consensus instead of dictating our terms. That is how we made progress these last few days. And that is how we will advance and uphold our ideals in the months and years to come."
He said the "new era of responsibility" he has promoted at home "must not end at our borders." And he expressed confidence that "we will rebuild global prosperity if we act with the sense of common purpose, persistence and optimism that the moment demands."
Answering a question about an end of the "Washington consensus" and diminished U.S. authority around the world, Obama said "some of that loss of authority was inevitable" and some was attributable to Bush administration actions.
"I would like to think that, with my election and the early decisions we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world," Obama said.
He pointed to international polls that he said show people in other countries to be "more hopeful about America's leadership."
Obama went on, "I do not buy into the notion that America can't lead in the world. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we had important things to contribute."
But he said it was important for the United States to "form partnerships" to solve problems "as opposed to just dictating solutions."
Obama indicated that some summit participants had made comments blaming the global economic crisis on the United States and citing Wall Street or particular U.S. banks or companies.
He said some of the criticism was mitigated by his "willingness to acknowledge . . . that some of this contagion did start on Wall Street." But he noted that European and Asian banks "have had their own issues," and he stressed that without "much more coordinated regulatory strategies . . . these problems will appear again" and pose new threats to the global financial system.
In response to questions from an assortment of American and international journalists, Obama said that although he was proud of what the G-20 accomplished, "this alone is not enough."
He added, "This is not a panacea. But it is a critical step, and it lays the foundation so that should the actions we have taken individually and collectively so far not succeed in boosting global demand and growth . . . we've created a good foundation for this leadership to come back together again and take additional steps until we get it right."
Branigin reported from Washington.