President Barack Obama plans to use his upcoming trip to Europe as an opportunity to listen as well as lead, according to key White House aides.
The trip starts with a London summit of the G20 group of industrialized and emerging economies before going on to a NATO meeting in France and an European Union gathering in the Czech Republic. The president will round out the series of events with a visit to Turkey.
The trip has several main objectives, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Saturday.
Ensuring that there is concerted action around the globe to jump start economic growth and that we are advancing a regulatory reform agenda to ensure that this crisis never happens again will be the key messages of the London leg of the trip, he said.
He added, The President and America are going to listen in London as well as lead.
America's actions in addressing the increasingly global financial crisis brought on by the collapse of the U.S. housing market and securities built around it demonstrates the country's commitment to leading by example, Gibbs said.
We've taken key steps to restore economic growth in this country . [and] this week steps that the Secretary of Treasury took to reform our regulatory framework and bring our financial system and its regulation into the 21st century, he said.
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough added that the trip would be a continuation of an aggressive and forward leaning focus of the administration on national security in its first few months in office.
We will also have an opportunity throughout this trip . to continue leading and strengthening our alliances; re-energizing our alliances to confront not just the economic and financial challenge we face, but also the shared challenges we face, he said.
McDonough said that in discussions with foreign leaders on security concerns, Obama would not focus solely on the inherited challenges of winding down the war in Iraq and securing more assistance for a renewed focus on fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Obama will seek, McDonough said, to re-energize our alliances to confront the looming threats of the 21st century, principally [nuclear] proliferation . [and] new threats like cyber [security] and climate and energy security.
The President obviously wants to take a particular interest in this trip in re-energizing specific alliances as well, McDonough said. He also wanted to make clear on this first trip that Turkey is a vital ally, a vital member of NATO and a vital bilateral partner to the United States in a range of issues.
He added, Turkey serves as a real bridge between Asia and Europe.
Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman said that the G20 summit would also seek agreement on expanding the scope of financial regulations to systemically important institutions, products and markets including hedge funds coming under the oversight umbrella and encouraging international tax havens to sign on to international standards of transparency and regulation.
Obama hopes, Froman said, to forge cooperation among regulators and supervisors cross border as this relates to global crisis, global institutions.
He added, There's also a series of institutional reforms that the leaders will be embracing, including expanding the financial services forum to all G20 members and reforming some of the international financial institutions.
McDonough also sought to downplay media reports of friction between Obama and other European leaders, notably Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, over whether their nations are doing enough to stimulate the global economy.
The president had very productive video conferences this week and phone calls with Chancellor Merkel, with [British] Prime Minister [Gordon] Brown and with [French] President [Nicolas] Sarkozy to work on many of the issues we're talking about, he said. I saw no evidence of any such back and forth or rift or anything.
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