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Obama Summitry Comes Amid Deeping Global Economic Woes

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they depart the White House for a trip to the United Kingdom to attend the G-20 Summit. (Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)

Updated 3:09 p.m.
By Michael D. Shear
LONDON -- President Obama arrived in London Tuesday for a series of meetings with European leaders aimed at restoring health to the global economy, confronting terrorism and repairing relations with allies abroad.

Obama's first trip overseas as president comes at a dramatic and tense time as the world confronts economic crises worse than any seen in decades. And his visit will offer the first clues of the new, post-Bush diplomacy that Obama promised on the campaign trail.

White House aides this morning cast his participation in the G-20 economic summit in historic terms, comparing it to a similar summit in 1933, largely deemed a failure at the time.

"We're gathering the G-20 at a time of the most severe economic crisis in generations," said Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economics. "The stakes for this summit are very high."

He added: "The economy has declined in November and December. The crisis has spread."

Obama's mission in London -- to foster world unity around a common set of economic measures -- is made more difficult by discord throughout Europe about how to confront the crisis, anger about America's role in starting it, and disagreement with some of the president's prescriptions for fixing it.

As they anticipated his arrival in London today, European crowds held signs blaming America for the economic downturn, calling the president out for hypocrisy as he campaigns for tougher regulations to rein in banks and financial institutions.

Last week, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gave official voice to that frustration, saying that ''this is a crisis that was caused by white people with blue eyes'' who "before the crisis, they looked as if they knew everything about economics.''

To that, Froman said that President Obama is not coming to Europe to get into an argument about who caused the crisis.

"The causes are many and they go beyond the U.S.," he told reporters at a briefing in London. "But we're not here to be defensive."

Economics are likely to be the focus of the first couple of days. But Obama will quickly confront some of America's toughest adversaries, meeting with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and Chinese president Hu Jintao for the first time.

On the eve of those conversations, Medvedev penned an article in today's Washington Post in which he called for a "restart" to cooperation with the United States and offered prescriptions for "overcoming our common negative legacy."

In the article, Medvedev appeared eager for warm relations with the new American president. But he also warned Obama about how quickly the relationship soured as George Bush pursued policies that the Kremlin saw as against their interests.

"All of these positions undermined Russia's interests and, if implemented, would inevitably require a response on our part," he wrote Tuesday.

As the talks have approached, the Russians have struck a tone of cautious optimism about the prospect of better relations with the Obama administration, saying there are still various areas that needed to be addressed.

They remain highly opposed to plans for a missile defense shield in Europe and insist that any future expansion of NATO would not offer greater security to Europe, but rather, divide it.

The Russians have reached an understanding with Iran over the sale of surface to air missiles, but said they have yet to deliver on shipments. Though the U.S. has pressed Russia to exert more pressure on Iran to abandon nuclear weapons research, Moscow maintains there is little more it can do, saying its nuclear dialogue with Tehran is based solely on energy production.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 31, 2009; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Obama Abroad  
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Next: Obama Honors the Coiner of a Slogan Heard Round the World


Apparently times are so tough that we are now rationing the alphabet. The headline as I type this currently refers to "Deeping" woes. I think even now we can afford to spend the extra two letters and say "Deepening."

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | March 31, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

No matter who gets in the President seat "people will talk and talk and talk"! It's time to redeem the time, look at the man or woman in the mirror and makes some real changes. Look at yourselves!! Many Americans are overload with too excess baggist of their own. President Obaman did not create this mess - he inherited it from a past administration. It's time that the American people examine their individual lives and make real changes. GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL AND HIS HAND IS ON OUR COMMANDER AND CHIEF - PRESIDENT OBAMA. President Obama is a wise man who walks with great intergrity. It's time that American know there has been a change of the "Guard" and it's a real good thing. in the Bible in II Chronicles 7:14 . . . it read . . .If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. American need healing, America need deliverance, America need to repent and turn from her wicked ways and put God back into their lives. Some have and that's a wonderful thing but there are others who are choking on their own dust while trying to clean the dust off of others. CHANGE WILL COME - WHEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND NATIONS OBEY GOD!. GOD is still blessing American regardless of what you or I say, think or do - HE IS STILL IN CONTROL. So be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. NO MAN OR WOMAN IS PERFECT OR HAVE ALL THE ANSWER! Prayer is power and does change things. Don't you think it's time for you the American people to seek the face of GOD ALMIGHTY. Peace!!

Posted by: SharonFreeman | March 31, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

MICHELE please fix your face you are a disgrace to the USA!

Posted by: Sparky15 | March 31, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I thank my lucky stars every day for this president at this time in history. We've gone from a president who couldn't complete a sentence any better than my 8th grader to one who can not only walk and chew gum at the same time, he can speak intelligently on any number of topics, set the gold standard for family values, play basketball, focus on multiple issues at once, inspire globally, this guy is unreal. Mistakes and missteps will be made, you can bet on that, but close your eyes for a moment and picture GWB or John McCain (and Sarah Palin) stepping off that plane in London to represent us right now.... Ummmmmmm TAX CUTS!! that's the answer to everything!
The Republican brand is bankrupt and thank god a majority of Americans have finally figured that out. Its a deep hole we're in but thanks to Obama there is hope.
Oh, BTW, to the snarky complaint about travel expenses, when did a Republican president ever foot his own bill for White House remodeling as the Obamas are doing?
Watch and learn.

Posted by: JohnDoug | March 31, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

we have already been taken to the cleaners by the Bush family.

i love the way, suddenly, "we are putting our children in debt".
all of a sudden.
we didn't care before, but NOW, oh god forbid, our children our going to be in debt.

so...i am a child of a greatest generationER and they didn't think twice about putting my generation in debt big time with war, depression, and the such.

In my college days, you couldn't qualify for a Pell Grant for ANYTHING. You had to be just about homeless. Unemployment negated any college help one could get. And Pell was the only thing around.
So I graduated OUT OF DEBT, thank you.
Now, the young ones are 30,000 in debt at 21 years of age.
And you talk about how we are putting our children in debt.

did bush care? 41 and 43 combined?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 31, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

You made a very good comment, shconnor. These neocons are cute, but so pathetic. They never gave a damn about their children's tax dollars, or their grandchildren's tax dollars, when George W. Bush was spending them hand over fist on tax cuts for the wealthy and a mindless war. Their false sanctimony is loads of fun to laugh at.

Posted by: euroguy | March 31, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

You know you've got problems when Europeans start calling you "too Socialist".

Posted by: birvin9999 | March 31, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

hey zippyspeed:
"This guy has already demonstrated a total inability to engage in even basic diplomacy"

and your statement is based on what now?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 31, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

oh puleeze----
Nancy Reagan (you know, the second President of the Reagan God years)
travelled, everyday, no matter where, what, when and how with...
her hairdresser
her interior designer
her make up artist
her wardrobe guru
and her astrologer.

all together on Air Force One with Ronnie.
Consistently. And no one said a word because you know why...

because Nancy was God in the Reagan years.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 31, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I have never arranged travel for the White House, but I did in the late 70's for the Department of State. I remember it didn't take long for the entourage on an official State Department overseas visit to number in the several hundreds. The biggest group was the advance secret service group followed by the administrative group followed by a gaggle of press members. So, you snotty republicans out there, the ones making derogatory remarks which are actually blatant lies, should stop making out like the Obama entourage is all hairdressers and pedicure specialist. Grow up! Go to church and pray for forgiveness for your publication of vicious lies.

Posted by: shconnor | March 31, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

You neoconservative eunuchs are so adorable. We are going to take the words, "President Barack HUSSEIN Obama", ram them down your throats for eight years, and make you like it. We will enjoy watching you seethe and swallow your own bile when Obama beats the Republicans senseless in 2012. You are loads of fun to laugh at.

Posted by: euroguy | March 31, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Can we rename and collect these updates under the header "Sucking Wind with President Obama"? This guy has already demonstrated a total inability to engage in even basic diplomacy, and now you expect him to simple hit the reset button? Give me a break.

Posted by: zippyspeed | March 31, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

One more note - George and Laura Bush would have never been so arrogant or so needy to have 500 staff go with them.

Let's hope this is the Obama's last trip out of the country - we just can't afford their travel expenses. But they are happy to put another trillion on our bill.

Posted by: mgd1 | March 31, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

King Obama is having such fun spending our tax dollars, and our children's tax dollars, and our grandchildren's tax dollars.

Queen Obama will be showing off her deisgner clothes while millions of Americans are laid off and put out of their homes - a true Marie Antoinette.

It will be fun watching our King and Queen strut their stuff while we pay their bills and for their 500 maids, butlers, cooks, body gaurds - oh and hair stylists!

Isn't great for us to be taken to the cleaners!

Posted by: mgd1 | March 31, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

JayMax, good analogy.

However, in Obama's case. One can only hope.
NFL stands for,"NOT FOR LONG"

Posted by: dashriprock | March 31, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JaxMax | March 31, 2009 2:06 PM
“1. Obama is slothful, Economically stupid and arrogant–and does NOT know it. He is about to embarrass the USA.”

Hey Moe …where’s Curly, Larry, Darryl and Darryl?????????

Posted by: knjincvc | March 31, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Well I doubt this visit could be any worse than George Bush's visits in the past. Just hope they understand that President Obama didn't make this mess, he's only trying his best to fix it!! But if you're looking to point fingers then might want to look into a few Swiss banks that have been harboring all the money this crooks took from citizens around the world. You want to be mad as someone, be made at the overseas banks that hold the secret bank accounts or London that is harboring the American AIG executive that was in charge of the group that started this whole mess.

Posted by: john_geo_smith | March 31, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"Obama's mission in London -- to foster world unity around a common set of economic measures."

Hopefully Obama will not see this as his mission. Obama's mission should be to listen since the strident dictates of the administration officials regarding the economic policies that European should follow went down like a brick.

Now is the time to simply listen and be agreeable.

Posted by: bsallamack | March 31, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

being able to go party with Carla Bruni is definitely a gigantic PERK !!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 31, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

From NOVELTY, to CELEBRITY, to TRAINEE, to ENEMY...the path to G20 acceptance for OBAMA and entourage.

....enjoy the show, but hold your applause until all the results are in!

Posted by: poppadata | March 31, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse


When a highly touted College Football Player starts his first game in the NFL, some veteran will knock him silly and say “Welcome to the NFL”.

The G20 has the potential to be a “Welcome to the NFL” moment for Obama due to the convergence of 3 factors:

1. Obama is slothful, Economically stupid and arrogant–and does NOT know it. He is about to embarrass the USA.

2. Now that we have observed him flounder for 2 months another factor is clear–he is ADDICTED to ADRENALIN. He needs a bigger crisis each day.

3. Obama has already severely weakened the US economy with a Stimulus and Budget so absurd even the French and Chinese are worried about Obama Socialism.

Obama need not have a Failed Presidency–there is still some hope left.

Our currency is at stake here, and Obama is clueless.

Just Shut Up. Let Bernanke speak.

King Solomon gave wise counsel in the Bible for Obama:

Pr 17:28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Pr 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Posted by: JaxMax | March 31, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"To that, Froman said that President Obama is not coming to Europe to get into an argument about who caused the crisis."

That's a chuckle. I'm pretty sure that the rest of the world isn't too much concerned with what America is coming to the summit for. After all, a country that is $13 Trillion in debt and counting (at about $6B/day), doesn't have a great deal of leverage nor wiggle room.

Posted by: whizkidz1 | March 31, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Criminey, it's always Russia, Russia, Russia.

Russia is mad about the Poland Arms Agreement with the USA.
They are helping Iran build nuclear power plants (because they need the energy!).
Invaded Georgia (another Bush fiasco at initiating the bush doctrine).

President Obama should take a side trip to Ukraine and talk with President Yushenko.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 31, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama lost control of the European expectations game, and he's now paying something of a price for it.

Still, the disillusionment with Obama is hardly as much as the media portrays. Conservative leaders over there are wary, but the teeming masses that packed Berlin will show up again.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | March 31, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

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