October 16, 2008 3:00 am

European call for 'Bretton Woods II'

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European leaders yesterday united behind calls for a "Bretton Woods II" summit to redesign the world's financial architecture, with Britain arguing the meeting could also be used to seal a long sought global trade deal.

Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, said the world should turn the financial crisis into an opportunity and reform global institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, conceived in 1944 when western leaders met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and mapped out a postwar financial order.

George Bush, the US president, is "open to the idea," of a summit, a US official said, although the administration was "focused on the immediate situation at the moment".

Officials in Brussels indicated last night that the meeting could take place in New York as early as next month

The idea yesterday gathered support at a European Union summit in Brussels. Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, and Angela Merkel, German chancellor, have already signalled their support for reforms to the international financial system.

In a draft summit statement, EU leaders echoed Mr Brown's appeal by calling for "a genuine and complete reform" of the world's financial architecture.

Mr Brown, who proposed holding a global summit in November or December, also said world leaders should settle the stalled Doha round of global trade talks launched in Qatar's capital in 2001. "We've seen international action to pump trillions of dollars into the banking system in the last few days," said one British official. "Getting a world trade deal shouldn't be beyond us."

France is one of a number of countries anxious about the effects of a deal on its economy, but Mr Brown said protectionism was the wrong approach.

Brown senses opportunity, Page 2

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