WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will press President Barack Obama for details on his plans to fix the ailing U.S. financial sector in talks on Tuesday that will focus on the global economic crisis.
The two leaders will also discuss ways to tighten lax financial regulations, a major topic for the summit of the Group of 20 developed and emerging economies that Brown will host in London on April 2.
Invoking former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies aimed at lifting the United States out of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Brown has called for a global New Deal involving cooperation from major economies to stimulate growth and improve financial regulation.
This is a global problem. It needs global solutions. There is a global banking collapse that we're dealing with the consequences of in every country, Brown told National Public Radio in an interview.
In keeping with what London calls its special relationship with the United States, Brown will be the first European leader to meet Obama since he took office on January 20.
The visit will include an Oval Office meeting and lunch. Brown will deliver a speech on Wednesday to the U.S. Congress, where he plans to lead a charge against protectionism.
The high profile accorded to Brown's visit has not dispelled anxiety in Britain about whether the relationship between the two countries would remain as special as ever.
The alliance has a long history that analysts say goes far deeper than the rapport between any two leaders.
But the visit has raised some comparisons to the relationship between Obama's and Brown's predecessors, George W. Bush and Tony Blair, who forged a close friendship in the aftermath of September 11 attacks in 2001.
Many are eager to see how well the serious, dry Brown will hit it off with charismatic Democratic U.S. president.
Brown, a former finance minister whose Labour Party is struggling politically, is hoping for a lift from his meeting with Obama, whose public approval ratings in the U.S. are very high six weeks into his administration.
The two met in July when Obama stopped in London during a European tour while he was still a presidential candidate. They chatted and took a stroll during a more than two-hour visit.
Some analysts said there seems to be less of a focus on Europe in the early weeks of the Obama administration than has been the case for past U.S. administrations.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, who met Obama a week ago, was the first foreign leader invited for a White House visit.
The signals from the Obama administration about their pecking order seem to be that, in order of priority, Asia and the Middle East come before Europe, said Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Asia on her first trip abroad and is in the Middle East this week.
U.S. officials said the friendship with Britain was as important as ever to Washington, given the need for cooperation on important issues such as the economic crisis and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
I think you'll see on the docket tomorrow a longer discussion about the world economy, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. I also expect things like the security situation in Afghanistan and the NATO mission to be part of that as well.
U.S. stock prices have fallen to 12-year lows amid ongoing worries about the damaged financial system.
As Obama considers whether to ask Congress for billions more for the financial rescue effort, the meeting will be a chance for him to exchange ideas with Brown, who is grappling with a similarly complex financial crisis at home.
A British official said Brown hoped for clarity from Obama on three subjects: his plans for dealing with toxic bank assets, his views on widening the global regulatory net and his ideas on boosting funding for international institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
Brown hopes Obama, who recently signed a massive $787 billion fiscal stimulus bill, will call for other countries to stimulate their economies.
Obama, who last month authorized the deployment of 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, where insurgent violence is worsening, hopes to see European countries step up their contributions to the NATO mission there.
A British official said no new pledges of money or commitments were likely to emerge from Tuesday's meeting.
(Reporting by Caren Bohan and Sumeet Desai; Editing by Stacey Joyce)