Centre-left world leaders seek common ground for G20 in Chile

Centre-left world leaders seek common ground for G20 in ChileVina del Mar, Chile  - Centre-left leaders from around the world were gathering Friday and Saturday at a special summit in the Chilean seaside resort of Vina del Mar to seek common ground ahead of next week's G20 summit in London.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is on a world tour to seek consensus on financial strategies ahead of the meetings, is a key figure at the weekend summit in Chile.

The United States and European Union do not agree on how to handle the global recession.

Washington advocates pumping much more stimulus money into its economy, and is urging a reluctant Europe to do the same. But Europe, with its extensive social safety net, says such high investments are neither desirable nor possible.

In Chile, Brown is joining prime ministers Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway; US Vice President Joe Biden; and presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Cristina Kirchner of Argentina and Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay, as well as the host, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Uruguay, Chile, Norway and Spain are not formal members of the G20 group of the world's largest economies, but Spain is to be included in next week's summit.

The Progressive Leaders' Summit, as it is called - a periodic gathering of centre-left leaders - comes at a crucial time, as the leaders deliberate their proposals to get the world out of recession.

The crisis and this weekend's meetings offer a "historic opportunity" to "devise a new social contract," Bachelet wrote in a piece published Friday under in the Spanish daily El Pais.

"The 21st century will either be governed by all of us together or it will be governed by no one at all," Bachelet said.

Bachelet also sees the crisis as a "great opportunity to lay the groundwork for a second stage in globalization." She stressed the need for multilateral decisions at the global level, more open markets, strong states, and more generally "prosperity for all and not just for some."

Brown already met with Lula in Brasilia on Thursday, where the two leaders agreed in a statement that Brown would ask the G20 to support an expansion of financial instruments that facilitate trade by at least 100 billion dollars, to help revive trade around the world.

The document issued by the two men included a demand for a swift and successful conclusion to the Doha Round of talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a rejection of protectionism as an instrument against the global crisis.

Lula and Brown also vowed to join efforts to strengthen regulation in the financial sector in order to prevent future crises.

The Progressive Leaders' Summit was launched by then-US president Bill Clinton in 1999 to define a strategy that was clearly different from that proposed by conservative governments around the world. The first such meeting took place in Berlin in 2000. (dpa)

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