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G-20 Leaders Get to Work Trying to Find Common Ground

Leaders of the world's 20 major economies get down to work Thursday as they meet in London to try to find common ground for greater cooperation to stem the global economic crisis.

Their first day in London was one of introductions, bilateral meetings, a reception at the royal palace with Queen Elizabeth and dinner at Number 10 Downing Street, the official residence of British prime ministers.

This took place as police scuffled with thousands of protesters, who had taken to the streets of central London to demonstrate for and against a variety of causes - from anti-war and anti-poverty to pro-environment and pro-jobs and better housing.

That was Wednesday. On Thursday the world leaders meet in working sessions to discuss what to do to stem the global recession and get back on the road to growth.

They seem in general agreement that the situation is serious and something must be done.

U.S. President Barack Obama set the tone, warning against trying to go it alone.

"History shows us that when nations fail to cooperate or when turn away from one another, when they turn inward, the price for our people only grows," said President Obama. "That is how the great depression deepened. That is a mistake we cannot afford to repeat."

A strong commitment to working together will be crucial, says economist Gianluca Benigno of the London School of Economics - crucial for public perception and for jittery markets.

"The perception that the leaders understand the deepness of the crisis is important," said Gianluca Benigno. "And, that they are ready to act cooperatively is also important. I think that's what the [final] statement should somehow emphasize."

But, serious differences remain. The U.S. and Britain want other governments to pump more money into their economies as stimulus. But, most European countries, notably Germany, oppose that for fear of adding to ever growing debt burdens.

The Europeans, with France and Germany in the lead, want more stringent measures to regulate the banking and investment sectors. They say that is needed to make sure the current crisis does not happen again.

Both matters are to be addressed, but concrete agreement on either is not expected.

Instead, Gianluca Benigno says there is more likely to be agreement on greater support for international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, to allow it to better help out ailing economies.

"Provide more funding to the IMF and maybe boosting the role of the IMF in the crisis," said Benigno.

World leaders have already tried to temper expectations, warning that the current crisis did not come about overnight and will not be resolved in such short order either.

But many average people here in Britain are skeptical of yet another summit. They want their government to do something, they want world leaders to work together, but they also want to see results in their own, everyday lives.