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British PM in Middle East for World Economic Help


Prime Minister Gordon Brown is on a tour of the oil-rich Middle East, seeking help for the global financial crisis.

Mr. Brown's four-day trip begins in Saudi Arabia, where he will appeal for support for countries hit hard by the economic downturn. He also will visit Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Before departing London Saturday, Mr. Brown said wealthy Gulf states should play a key role in stabilizing the world economy. He said volatile oil prices are in no one's interest.

In India Saturday, the central bank cut its key interest rate for the second time in two weeks to help its economy.

Russia transferred $6.4 billion of its rescue fund to state bank VEB Saturday to protect its own economy.

And in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged local banks to use Germany's $637 billion economic rescue package.

Governments worldwide are taking urgent measures to help financial institutions resume lending and restart the stalled credit market that threatens to push the world into a recession.

New economic reports released by the U.S. Commerce Department Friday show more evidence of a global slowdown.

The reports said U.S. consumer spending suffered its sharpest decline in four years in September. The news followed another report showing the U.S. economy is nearing a recession.

The financial crisis began in the United States when people failed to pay back billions of dollars worth of home loans.

Without that money, banks had trouble loaning to companies that keep the U.S. economy running. Several major U.S. financial institutions collapsed, triggering a plunge in world stock markets.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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