October 24, 2008
Asian and European leaders are preparing to call on the International Monetary Fund to help countries that have been the hardest hit by the global financial meltdown.
The IMF and other institutions should help stabilize the financial crisis, according to the draft of a statement that is expected to be issued at the end of the Europe-Asia Meeting that opened in Beijing on Friday.
The two-day gathering of representatives of 43 countries is trying to build consensus among the participating nations ahead of a Nov. 15 summit in Washington that will discuss the global financial crisis.
“Leaders agreed that the IMF should play a critical role in assisting countries seriously affected by the crisis, upon their request,” according to the draft statement, which was obtained by the Associated Press.
The IMF, along with other international financial institutions, should act now to help stabilize struggling banks and plunging share prices, said the draft.
The statement goes on to say leaders have agreed to “undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems” and to quickly implement appropriate initiatives.
Package being worked on
The statement would be among the strongest calls yet for a leading role in the crisis for the Washington-based IMF.
Iceland reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund on Friday for a two-year, $2 billion loan as part of an aid package to assist the Nordic country.
Hungary, Ukraine and Pakistan have also turned to the IMF for help as the global financial meltdown continues.
The International Monetary Fund is already working on a package that will allow certain emerging economies exchange their currencies for U.S. dollars to ease short-term credit strains, officials familiar with the plans told Reuters. The plan is expected to be approved by November.
The officials, however, have denied speculation that the IMF is preparing a $1 trillion bailout facility for emerging markets.
Meanwhile, the European leaders are pushing China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, to play its part in mitigating the financial crisis and to seize on the opportunity to help shape global reforms.
Sarkozy calls for united Asia-Europe front
In remarks at the meeting’s opening ceremony, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a united Asia-Europe front at the Nov. 15 meeting in Washington.
“Europe is going to act in a united way, and we will submit proposals that we have developed together,” Sarkozy said. “Europe would like Asia to support our efforts and would like to make sure that on the 15th of November we can face the world together and say that the causes of this unprecedented crisis will never be able to happen again.”
Chinese President Hu Jintao told the meeting the current financial crisis has badly dented China’s economy.
“The global financial crisis has noticeably increased the uncertainties and factors for instability in China’s economic development,” Hu said in remarks at the opening of the seventh biennial Asia-Europe Meeting.
China will work with the international community “to the best of its ability” to revive stability “with a sense of responsibility,” Hu said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after speaking to Hu independently that she feels China will make its contribution to dealing with the crisis.
“There was large agreement that such answers must be found internationally,” Merkel said.
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