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British PM Calls for Global Action on Financial Crisis


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for global action to solve the credit crunch that has shaken world financial markets. Mr. Brown was one of several world leaders speaking at the U.N. General Assembly's annual debate on Friday. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Mr. Brown said because the financial, food and energy crises are having a worldwide impact, they cannot be solved by nations working in isolation and called for international cooperation. "We must resist those instincts that are protectionist. Now is not the time to pull up the drawbridge. To seek solace in isolation or revert to an outdated and futile protectionism."

He said in the short-term countries must take action to deal with the fall-out of the credit crunch and offered support for U.S. efforts to stem the crisis. In Britain, he said his government has injected billions of dollars into the market. "We must do all it takes to stabilize the still turbulent financial markets, and, in the months ahead, work together to rebuild the world financial system around clear principles."

On issues of peace and security, Mr. Brown said Sudan's Darfur region "remains a disaster" and called on Khartoum to create the conditions that would allow the conflict to end. He also said justice has to be part of any sustainable peace.

The prime minister said the task of defeating terrorists in Afghanistan is hard, but progress is encouraging. And he called for standing firm against oppression in Burma and said the international community must send a strong signal of its support for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also addressed the Assembly Friday. He welcomed the new president of Pakistan, saying his government is committed to resolving all outstanding issues between the two neighbors, and said his country, a nuclear power, is committed to non-proliferation. "I reiterate India's proposal for a Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and providing for their complete elimination within a specified time frame."

Prime Minister Singh also called for a second "green revolution" to address the problem of food security, saying new technologies, institutional responses and a global compact are needed to ensure enough food.

Haiti's President René Préval, whose country was devastated in recent weeks by tropical storms and hurricanes that claimed some 500 lives, thanked the international community for its assistance, but said he worries the concern is only temporary. He is heard here through a translator: "I am worried because the Haitians run the risk of finding themselves alone in undertaking the real, genuine task today, which is the reconstruction of the country, the rebuilding of our productive capacity and our social infrastructure."

The General Assembly annual meeting continues with a special Saturday session, when the foreign ministers of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and North Korea are scheduled to be among those leaders addressing the debate.

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