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Obama, Brown Discuss Global Economy

U.S. President Barack Obama met on Tuesday at the White House with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The session helped set the stage for the upcoming London meeting of the world's 20 leading developed and emerging economies.

Since taking office, President Obama has focused on the ailing U.S. economy - pushing a stimulus package through Congress and taking steps to repair damage to the financial sector.

But as he sat down with Britain's Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama stressed the international nature of the economic crisis. He said countries must work together to get the global economy back on track.

Mr. Obama added that the process will not be easy or quick.

"It's going to be sort of full of fits and starts in terms of getting the mess cleaned up. But it's going to get cleaned up. And we are going to recover. And we are going to emerge more prosperous, more unified and, I think, more protected from systemic risk, having learned these lessons, than we were before," he said.

Prime Minister Brown made specific mention of the need to overhaul the world's financial regulations and institutions - an issue he likely will raise when he hosts the London summit on April 2.

"A bad bank anywhere can affect good banks everywhere. So we've got to root out the problems that exist in other parts of the world as well, set principles with the banking system for the future and make sure that the banks subscribe to lending agreements where they actually increase the lending that is available to citizens in every country," he said.

Gordon Brown is the first European leader to meet with President Obama at the White House. As the two men sat down for talks, reporters asked whether Britain still has a special place in U.S. foreign policy.

President Obama said it always has and always will.

"I think this notion that somehow there is any lessening of that special relationship is misguided. Great Britain is one of our closest, strongest allies and there is a link, a bond there, that will not break. And I think that's true not only on the economic front, but also on issues of common security," the president said.

Mr. Obama made specific mention of Britain's role in Afghanistan and Iraq. The situation in Afghanistan will be the central issue when NATO holds its 60th anniversary summit on the French-German border in April, immediately after the economic talks in London.