President Obama in Europe: the Thrills, Frills and Deals

UNITED KINGDOM – First Lady Michelle Obama ignited a Fashion Frenzy as she alighted from Airforce One on the first leg of the first official European visit by the first couple. Then came the much anticipated visit to the Queen and the gift exchange.

An iPod? Yeah! After all, the movie clips were not those of Beyonce’s hit video “single ladies nor Snoops “gin and Juice”.


The very classy and intellectual but tech savvy president had ensured that the gigabytes storage capacity held images that delighted HRM. Her visit to the USA a few years earlier was documented for plug and play purposes.

President Barack Obama from recent surveys and reports is surely the star attraction of the G 20 Summit.

 PhotoCredit: News Team International, Will Wintercross


But seriously, for those who do not know, the G 20 (group of 20) is a bloc of industrialized and developing Nations established in 1999. The first meeting held in Berlin Germany and was hosted by German and Canadian Finance Ministers.

The G 20 is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging market countries on key issues related to global economic stability.

Member countries include;

1.      Argentina

2.      Australia

3.      Brazil

4.      Canada

5.      China

6.      France

7.      Germany

8.      India

9.      Indonesia

10.  Italy

11.  Japan

12.  Mexico

13.  Russia

14.  Saudi Arabia

15.  South Africa

16.  South Korea

17.  Turkey

18.  United Kingdom

19.  United States of America

20.  European Union


United Kingdom is the current G 20 chair while South Korea takes it on in 2010.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hold on a second. Let’s make a brief statement. I just want to thank President Lee and his entire delegation. Korea is one of America’s closest allies and greatest friends. And under President Lee’s leadership, that friendship has only grown stronger. So we are very interested in discussing the economic crisis, which is the topic of the G20 meeting. But obviously we also have a great range of issues to discuss — on defense, on peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, on the outstanding contributions that Korea has made with respect to the Afghanistan situation, and their global role and global leadership on issues like climate change.
So I just want to publicly say thank you to the Republic of Korea for their outstanding friendship and the close ties between our two countries.
Thank you.

Read out during meeting – President Obama invited President Lee to visit Washington to meet with him on June 16th.
There was a fair amount of discussion of the North Korea issue. President Obama stressed our goal, our unchanging goal, of the verifiable elimination of North Korean nuclear weapons and weapons programs; said that we thought that the six-party talk process was a good mechanism for dealing with that. He said that North Korea will not be able to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea; expressed his admiration for President Lee’s calm resolve and restraint and steadfastness in the face of considerable abuse from the North Koreans for him personally; said that we will consult very closely with South Korea as we move forward; that the expected missile launch would be a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, and the U.S. and South Korea would consult closely about how to respond firmly at the U.N. to that.
The subject of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement came up. President Obama said that he understood there were difficulties on both sides on moving forward, but he said he does want to make progress and our staffs should discuss how to move forward.
There was also a brief reference to climate change, and of course, there was discussion on the economic crisis in our respective countries, and globally; admiration by President Obama for the stimulus package that South Korea has put forward.
Finally, Afghanistan, Pakistan. President Obama expressed appreciation for the assistance that South Korea has provided and is intending to provide to both countries. South Korea has been active in providing vocational and medical assistance in Afghanistan. They’re looking to doing more, which we appreciate. They also, I expect, will participate in the upcoming Pakistan donors conference.

Statement Following President  Obama’s Meeting with President Lee of the Republic of Korea 
April 2, 2009

President Obama met this morning with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and discussed the global economic crisis, North Korea, and other areas of cooperation. The South Korean leader accepted President Obama’s invitation to visit Washington on June 16.
The two leaders agreed to work closely to take strong measures to stimulate their economies and to build international consensus on reform of the international regulatory and supervisory system. They both stressed the importance of avoiding protectionism and economic nationalism. President Obama expressed his strong commitment to the U.S.-ROK alliance, which is essential to maintain peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and pledged continued cooperation in the ongoing joint efforts to strengthen the alliance further. The two presidents agreed that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement could bring benefits to both countries and committed to working together to chart a way forward. Both leaders share a vision for broadening and modernizing the Alliance to address the challenges of the 21st Century and decided to explore ideas for increasing regional and global cooperation at their meeting in June.
They discussed the issue of North Korea and promised to continue close cooperation in the effort to peacefully and verifiably eliminate North Korea’s nuclear programs, weapons and materiel through Six-Party Talks. In that regard, they urged North Korea to abide by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and agreed on the need for a unified response by the international community in the event that North Korea launches a long-range missile.
President Obama expressed appreciation for South Korea’s contributions and support for the international effort to promote stability and to assist reconstruction in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. They promised also to continue to find ways to cooperate in addressing global challenges such as climate change and clean energy technologies.

Remarks of President Barack Obama—As prepared for delivery at the Press Conference After G-20 Summit
London, United Kingdom
April 2, 2009

Good afternoon. Earlier today, we finished a very productive Summit that will be, I believe, a turning point in our pursuit of global economic recovery.
By any measure, the London Summit was historic.  It was historic because of the size and scope of the challenges we face, and because of the timeliness and magnitude of our response.
The challenge is clear.   The global economy is contracting. Trade is shrinking. Unemployment is rising. The international financial system is nearly frozen. Even these facts cannot fully capture the crisis that we are confronting. Because behind them is the pain and uncertainty that so many people are facing. We see it back home in our own communities. Families have lost their homes. Workers are losing their jobs and their savings. Students are deferring their dreams. So many have lost so much. Just to underscore this point, jobless claims released back home today were the highest in 26 years. We owe it to all of our citizens to act, and to act with a sense of urgency.
In an age when our economies are linked more closely than ever before, the whole world has been touched by this devastating downturn. And today, the world’s leaders have responded today with an unprecedented set of comprehensive and coordinated actions.
Faced with similar global economic challenges in the past, the world was slow to act, and people paid an enormous price. That was true in the Great Depression, when nations prolonged and worsened the crisis by turning inward, waiting for more than a decade to meet the challenge together. And even in the 1980s, a slow global response deepened and widened a debt crisis in Latin America that pushed millions into poverty.
Today, we have learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to this Summit, some confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed upon a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again.
First, we are committed to growth and job creation. Nearly all G-20 nations have acted to stimulate demand, which will total well over $2 trillion in global fiscal expansion. The United States is also partnering with the private sector to clean out legacy assets that are crippling some banks, and using the full force of the government to ensure that our action leads directly to loans that people and businesses depend upon. These efforts will be amplified by our G-20 partners, who are pursing similarly comprehensive programs.
We have also agreed on bold action to support developing countries, so that we aren’t faced with declining markets that the global economy depends upon. Together, the G-20 is tripling the IMF’s lending capacity and promoting lending by multilateral development banks to increase the purchasing power and expand markets in every country
And we have rejected the protectionism that could deepen this crisis. History tells us that turning inward can help turn a downturn into a Depression. This cooperation between the world’s leading economies signals our support for open markets, as does our multilateral commitment to trade finance that will grow our exports and create new jobs.
Second, we are committed to comprehensive reform of a failed regulatory system. Together, we must put an end to the bubble and bust economy that has stood in the way of sustained growth, and enabled abusive risk-taking that endangers our prosperity.
At home, our efforts began with the approach that Secretary Geithner proposed last week, the strongest regulatory reforms any nation has contemplated to prevent the massive failure of responsibility that we have seen. And today, these principles have informed and enabled the coordinated action that we will take with our G-20 partners.
To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We are extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We will identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will re-establish the Financial Stability Forum with a stronger mandate. And we will reform the IMF and World Bank, so they are more efficient, effective, and representative.
Finally, we are protecting those who don’t always have a voice at the G-20, but who have suffered greatly in this crisis. The United States is ready to lead in this endeavor. In the coming days, I will work with Congress to provide $448 million in immediate assistance to vulnerable populations, and to double support for agricultural development to over $1 billion so that we are giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. We will also support the United Nations and World Bank as they coordinate the rapid assistance necessary to prevent humanitarian catastrophe.  This is not just charity though. These are future markets for all countries, and future drivers of growth.
Let me also underscore my appreciation to Prime Minister Brown and all my colleagues from around the world who contributed to this Summit’s success. It’s hard for 20 heads of state to bridge their differences. 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. So I’m pleased that the G-20 has agreed to meet again this fall. For this is just the beginning. Our problems won’t be solved in one meeting. We must be proactive in shaping events and persistent in monitoring our progress to determine whether further action is needed.
I also was pleased to have had the opportunity, while in London, to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Russia, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and India, as well as Great Britain.  These discussions were valuable and productive.  Of course, we spoke about additional steps to promote economic recovery and growth. But we also discussed coordinated actions we could take to reduce the nuclear threat, forge a coordinated response to North Korea’s planned missile launch, turn back terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and protect our planet from the scourge of climate change. I am encouraged that we have laid the groundwork for real and lasting progress.
The challenges of the 21st century cannot be met without collective action. 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.
I’ve spoken often, at home, about a new era of responsibility. I believe strongly that this era must not end at our borders. In a world that is more and more inter-connected, we have a responsibility to work together to solve common challenges. It will take time. But we can rebuild our global prosperity if we act with the sense of common purpose, persistence, and optimism that our moment demands. Thank you.

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