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Obama Works to Jumpstart G20 Agenda, Strengthen Ties

President Barack Obama met with Russian and Chinese leaders in London Wednesday as G20 leaders prepared to discuss the economic crisis. Margaret Warner reports from London.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Our lead story, President Obama met one on one with world leaders in London today, as protesters thronged the streets. It was the eve of the Group of 20 summit of economic powers.

    NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The Obamas' motorcade arrived at 10 Downing Street this morning, an early start to a long day of meetings on the global financial crisis and other issues.

    The first session was with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his team. Another meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev brought a new pledge to slash nuclear weapons.

  • U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    I think that, over the last several years, the relationship between our two countries has been allowed to drift. My hope is that, given the constructive conversations that we've had today, the joint statements that we will be issuing, both on reductions of nuclear arsenals as well as a range of other areas of interest, that what we're seeing today is the beginning of new progress.

  • DMITRY MEDVEDEV, president, Russia (through translator):

    I can only agree that the relations between our countries have been adrift over the past years. As President Obama has said, they were drifting, and drifting in some wrong directions. They were degrading, to some extent.

    That is why we believe that, since such a situation was not to the benefit of the United States or Russian Federation, to say nothing about the global situation, we believe that the time has come to reset our relations.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    As part of that reset, Mr. Obama agreed to visit Moscow this summer. Later in the same room, he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and agreed to visit China later in the year.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    I said publicly — and I continue to believe — that the relationship between China and the United States is not only important for the citizens of both our countries, but will help to set the stage for how the world deals with a whole host of challenges in the years to come.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Afterward, Chinese and American officials faced each other across a table. They agreed on continued talks about a range of issues, including North Korea and economic policy.

    The push for economic unity was the president's theme with Prime Minister Brown. The U.S. has pressed for more stimulus spending, while France and Germany want greater financial regulation.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    I came here to put forward ideas, but I also came here to listen, not to lecture. Having said that, we must not miss an opportunity to lead, to confront a crisis that knows no borders. We have a responsibility to coordinate our actions and to focus on common ground, not on our occasional differences. If we do, I believe we can make enormous progress.

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