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European Leaders Meet in London Over Global Economic Turmoil

Leaders of Europe's four biggest economies, all members of the G8 group of industrialized nations, met in London Tuesday to discuss the ongoing global financial turmoil. They called for greater transparency in financial institutions and a better early warning system to avoid future crises, as VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown played host to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy's Romano Prodi. They were joined by European Commission Chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

The talks took place amid growing concerns about turmoil in global financial markets, the economic downturn in the United States and its potential impact on European and other economies.

Prime Minister Brown outlined the group's broad agreement.

"We're agreed that the fundamentals of the European economies remain sound," he said. "And we have committed to cooperate closely to maintain economic stability, to strengthen and deepen economic reform and to support enterprise. We're agreed that at this time of global uncertainty, we need to signal our commitment to an open economy."

Last year's collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States sparked the current global financial crisis. Britain soon felt the impact with the credit squeeze causing a near collapse of the Northern Rock bank. There are fears the U.S. economic downturn will turn into recession, speculation that has caused wild fluctuations in financial markets across the globe.

Added to those woes came last week's financial scandal in Paris, where one man, Jerome Kerviel is accused of unauthorized stock trading that resulted in losses of more than seven billion dollars to the French bank, Societe General.

And so the European leaders meeting in London were eager to show their solidarity, warning against a retreat into protectionism and calling for greater transparency in dealings by banks and credit rating agencies. They also called for a greater role by the International Monetary Fund to serve as an early warning system to help prevent such crises in the future.