Brown to meet Bush in Washington

Gordon Brown is to travel to Washington tomorrow for a meeting with US President George Bush to discuss the global economy.

The unexpected trip to the White House is a diversion from Mr Brown's visit to the United Nations in New York, where he has been in a series of meetings today.

As well as the worsening financial crisis, issues understood to be on the agenda will be Iraq, Afghanistan and Georgia.

Mr Brown said: "While the problem comes out of America it has consequences for all of us and every family will want to know that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that there is stability; and that is stability for people's jobs, for people's mortgages, for people's standards of living. That is why I want to meet President Bush tomorrow.

"We have got to do everything we can not just for stability now but to make sure that the international financial system is built around the right principles for the future.

"That's why I have been meeting all the international leaders who are here, from every continent of the world. That's why I have been talking to some of the financial people in Wall Street.

"And that's why I also wanted to meet President Bush tomorrow to talk about some of these proposals, to back up the action that he is taking.

The Prime Minister's visit coincided with intense political argument in the US over a proposed 700 billion dollar (£380.85 billion) rescue package for the financial markets.

President Bush took the unprecedented step today of summoning both of his potential successors, Barack Obama and John McCain, to the White House for emergency talks after warning the US nation that its "entire economy is in danger".

Mr Brown threw his weight behind the proposed US taxpayer bail-out of American financial institutions, saying it was essential to take rapid action to restore stability to the markets.

"It is necessary to get these bad assets out of the system as quickly as possible," he said in an interview with the BBC World Service.

"We support and welcome the American Resolution Trust Corp. Let us make sure we stabilise the financial system immediately."

Downing Street played down reports that Mr Brown had been snubbed by US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who was reported to have refused to meet the PM.

Number 10 said Chancellor Alistair Darling dealt with his counterpart and had been in close contact with him throughout recent developments.

Later today however, Mr Brown is due to meet Tim Geithner, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Earlier he held what aides described as "very constructive and useful" breakfast talks with 18 Wall Street asset management chiefs.

Following meetings last night with fellow world leaders, the Prime Minister suggested that his foreign counterparts accepted the need for the reforms he has proposed in the financial sector.

They include a global regulatory system, bigger responsibility on banks' boards, reforming the bonus system and greater transparency on transactions.

"I think what is happening is this set of events is making people realise that some of the things we proposed years ago, but we couldn't get consensus on, need to be done," he said.

He added: "People are going to have to work together for common goals."

The immediate US crisis overshadowed the original purpose of Mr Brown's visit: a United Nations poverty summit and talks with world leaders about the wider financial turmoil.

Speaking to the UN in the general assembly hall, Mr Brown hailed an "historic summit" at which another eight billion US dollars (£4.3 billion) had been committed to the Millennium Development Goals.

In an address to the opening plenary session of the one-day event, he said: "Some say this time of financial turbulence is the time to put our ambitions on hold, to cut back or postpone the dream of meeting the Millennium Development Goals," he said.

"But this would be the worst time to turn back. Every global problem we have requires global solutions involving all the continents of the world."

He went on: "Let this United Nations, this leadership of the world, today rouse the conscience of the world, summon us as global citizens to great and common purpose so that millions of men, women and children trapped in the prison of poverty, can at last be set free."

Africa and the developing world were even more important at a time of economic turmoil, he insisted, saying they had to be "part of the solution".

"There is an economic and actually a political reason in this financial crisis that we should not turn our backs on Africa and the developing countries.

"It would be inexcusable when what is happening in the developing countries can be part of the solution."

The Prime Minister also rejected suggestions that Downing Street had been behind the revelation of Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly's decision to quit the Cabinet.

Confusion surrounded the nature of the announcement, which spread through Labour Party conference bars late on Wednesday night, overshadowing his own keynote speech.

Asked whether No 10 had been behind the news, the Premier said: "Not at all... it leaked out."

Mr Brown also said Britain was not facing the same problems as the United States.

He told reporters: "The American economy is different from Britain. What's happening to the housing market is different, because there is still demand for housing in Britain but no flow of money - America has overbuilt houses and they now recognise that.

"But it's different in the sense that President Bush's plan is about dealing with a wide range of institutions, state-wide, state to state, large numbers of companies that would employ this facility, and you know we in Britain have a smaller number of institutions and we have been dealing with issues that come to us in a way that can deal with the individual problems of a particular company.

"But at the same time we have a special liquidity facility that is made available of more than £100 million and it's available to companies and financial institutions if they need it.

"We are coordinating our action wherever possible, but each country will do what is necessary for their country to deal with the problems in different ways, but the aim in each case is first of all to stabilise the system and then to move things forward so that we can build the international system that is capable of dealing with the problems that a global financial market now has."

Asked if he would be prepared to remove so-called "toxic debt" from the UK housing market if need be, the Prime Minister replied: "I have said we will do what is necessary."

And he added: "I have seen a consensus among leaders that I know who are here in New York that the international financial system must be rebuilt, and that while the problem started in America we need to do more to build a financial system round the world with common rules and common standards, so we don't get the problem that while you know what is happening in one part of the world, actually the same company operating in another part of the world is creating difficulties that have got to be dealt with."