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World leaders end crisis discussions at Davos forum
Updated: 2009-02-02 12:36

DAVOS, Switzerland  -- World political and business leaders concluded a five-day forum in Davos Sunday on tackling the financial crisis and other global challenges, going home with world's expectations for decisions and actions.

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One of the most important consensuses reached at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting is the need for international cooperation in dealing with the current crisis, which has affected both developed and developing economies.

"This is not an economic crisis in one country, it is a global crisis. We need global cooperation and action to cope with it," said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, one of the 43 heads of state or government present at the meeting.

Klaus Schwab, the WEF's founder and executive chairman, went further to stress that the whole society, not only the governments, must be engaged in dealing with the current crisis.

The call for cooperation was echoed by other major leaders, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In tackling the crisis, confidence is the source of strength, practical cooperation is the effective way and accepting responsibilities is the prerequisite, Wen said in his speech to the forum.

The Chinese premier expressed confidence that China's economy would continue to grow fast and steadily despite the impact of the global crisis.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 28, 2009. [Xinhua] 
"It's very encouraging, and the important thing is Premier Wen is using the statistics from China to illustrate his point," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization.

US President Barack Obama was absent from the annual gathering of world elites in the Swiss ski resort. But a senior advisor conveyed his willingness for cooperation.

"Our economy is global, our crisis is global and our solutions must be global," said Valerie Jarrett, Obama's assistant for intergovernmental relations.

The United States cannot be alone in the effort to rebuild confidence in economy and the financial markets, Jarrett said.

She stressed that the Obama administration would be partners with the rest of the world "to establish a workable international framework that can help stabilize the global economy."

But cooperation and coordination may not be easy, given the differences of systems and interests, as well as the degree of impact by the crisis, participants said.

Participants at the the meeting also called for an overhaul of the global financial system and the establishment of new economic orders with stronger international regulations.

Brown said he would push for "international standards of transparency and disclosure" for financial institutions.

"And we need to reform and strengthen international institutions giving them power and resources to invest at global level," he said.

Meanwhile, Merkel said a UN Economic Council based on a new charter of global economic principles should be created to monitor the global economy.

But it remains unclear how their ideas would be viewed by other major economies, notably the United States under Obama.

Leaders at the Davos forum also highlighted the importance of fighting protectionism, which tends to rise at times of economic crisis.

They called for the conclusion of the long-stalled Doha Round of global trade opening talks as part of the stimulus package for the world economy.

"Trade is part of the solution of the global crisis," said Swiss Economics Minister Doris Leuthard, who hosted a ministerial meeting of major members of the World Trade Organization on the sidelines of the Davos forum.

"In fact, free trade could serve as the largest economic stimulus package to revive the global economy and fight poverty," she said.

In addition to the economic crisis, participants also discussed other global risks such as climate change, energy, food and water security.

All those risks need global solutions, participants said.

The meeting also reviewed situations in the Gaza Strip and Afghanistan, as well as Iran's nuclear issue.

World leaders at the five-day meeting now are expected to digest the information and suggestions they have received and come up with proper decisions on reviving world economy when they are back home.

The next G20 summit scheduled for April is considered an occasion for major leaders to make important decisions and action plans on the financial crisis.

World leaders also prepare to meet at a UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the end of this year to set a global framework for tackling the global issue.

The Geneva-based World Economic Forum has held annual meetings since 1971. As a non-governmental organization, it only provides a venue for important discussions on global issues, leaving decisions and actions to world leaders.