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Obama Urges Action in Face of Economic Crisis

As world leaders met in Washington Saturday to addess the global economic crisis, President-Elect Barack Obama urged Congress to adopt a plan to boost the U.S. economy. VOA's Catherine Cannon reports, Mr. Obama spoke in his weekly radio address about the difficult economic challenges facing the nation.

President-Elect Barack Obama says he is glad President George Bush initiated the summit of leaders from industrialized and developing nations because, he said, the current global economic crisis requires a coordinated global response. In his radio address, Mr. Obama said America must act to deal with the crisis at home. "Make no mistake: this is the greatest economic challenge of our times. And while the road ahead will be long, and the work will be hard, I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis - because here in America we always rise to the moment, no matter how hard," he said.

The President-elect urged Congress to pass what he called a down payment on a rescue plan next week.

"We cannot afford to delay providing help for the more than one million Americans who will have exhausted their unemployment insurance by the end of this year. If Congress does not pass an immediate plan that gives the economy the boost it needs, I will make it my first order of business as President," he said.

Mr. Obama says, although the current economic crisis poses difficult challenges, it also presents opportunities to fix long-term problems and to create new jobs.

"If this financial crisis has taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people," said Mr. Obama.

At the conclusion of the G-20 summit, President Bush said it was very productive. The leaders agreed to a series of measures to strengthen regulation of financial markets and prevent further economic weakening. They also agreed to meet again before the end of April, after Mr. Obama has taken over as president.

President Bush said he assured the other leaders that Mr. Obama's transition team has been fully briefed on the meeting.

"I told them that we will work tirelessly to make sure the transition between my administration and his administration is seamless," said Mr. Bush. "And I told them that I hope he succeeds, that it's good for our country that people see a peaceful transfer of power."

Mr. Obama did not attend the G-20 economic summit, saying it would be inappropriate, but he had two representatives in Washington, who met privately with several of the leaders on the sidelines.