Leaders of the 20 of the world's leading and emerging economies have opened summit talks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylania. The Group of 20 is meeting for the third time in less than one year to tackle the global economic crisis, and prevent a meltdown of this scope from ever happening again.
There are indications of economic recovery from Beijing to Wall Street. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says there is reason for optimism. "This is encouraging but we have a ways to go and we are going to keep working to sustain the progress we have seen," he said.
As the G20 leaders congregated in Pittsburgh, Geithner stressed there are big items on the summit agenda.
They include finding ways to balance out the world economy, and implement needed reforms in the financial sector.
Geithner predicts progress in efforts to achieve balance - saying Americans are spending less and saving more, and the Chinese are exporting less and building domestic demand. He predicts a framework agreement will emerge from the summit. "My sense is there is support for this, and I think we are encouraged by that," he said.
Perhaps more contentious is the goal of reforming financial institutions around the world. The Europeans want strict caps on executive compensation - with the French and the Germans in the lead.
Geithner told reporters the United States wants rules and standards, but indicated each country should develop its own plan for dealing with the compensation issue. He stressed America's commitment is real. "We don't want to see these reforms take effect two years from now. We don't want to see them take effect next year. We want to see them take effect now so they effect compensation process today, not tomorrow," he said.
The G20 leaders began their deliberations over a private working dinner at an enclosed public garden.
The welcome from President Obama at the Phipps Conservatory was warm. The greeting from demonstrators in the streets of Pittsburgh was very different.
Police and protestors clashed when marchers tried to move on the Pittsburgh Convention Center - the main summit site - without a permit. Riot squads used pepper spray and smoke to disperse the crowd.
The security net extended to the rivers that surround this city of bridges, with Coast Guard vessels on constant patrol, and police helicopters overhead.