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Global Leaders Meet at Back-to-Back Economic Summits

G20 preparations in Toronto. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images
G20 preparations in Toronto. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Leaders of some of the world’s largest economies are meeting in Canada over the weekend to focus on nurturing the global economic recovery and facilitating international security and aid.

The first summit involves G8 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — and runs Friday to Saturday in Muskoka, Ontario.

In the area of international development, the eight countries plan to look specifically at maternal, newborn and child health plus donor accountability, according to host country Canada.

The countries reportedly are short about $18 billion toward their 2005 goal to increase their combined aid to the poorest countries by at least $50 billion.

Five years are left until the deadline for the U.N. Millennium Development Goals — a set of eight goals, including reducing extreme poverty and child mortality rates and fighting diseases such as AIDS — and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged governments and businesses to strengthen their participation through transparency and regulation.

The G20 comes next in Toronto and goes through Sunday. Leaders of participating countries, which represent 90 percent of the world’s economy, are hoping to coordinate their economic recovery plans following the global crisis that began in the fall of 2008. The summit follows those in Pittsburgh and London that also focused on the economic crisis.

The economy has shown improvement since the London meeting in the spring, wrote U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, but countries still need to work together by “strengthening domestic sources of growth and by allowing more flexibility in their exchange rates” like China has done, they said.

Since the last meeting, several European governments have implemented austerity measures aimed at curbing debt, and U.S. lawmakers early Friday reached a deal on sweeping regulations of the financial industry, which is also expected to help the economy.

Some differences were expected to arise, however, over how quickly to cut national deficits — with Geithner emphasizing growth and confidence, while Germany and the European Union back more immediate deficit reductions.

The EU is one of the observing groups at the G20, in addition to representatives from African and Asian organizations, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

South Korea hosts the fifth G20 summit in November in Seoul.

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