Brown meets Pope and Berlusconi in Rome

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Gordon Brown insisted today every continent must contribute to a "global bargain" that would lead the world out of recession.

The Prime Minister called for better global regulation of financial systems and said international institutions would have to take on "even greater responsibilities".

But he insisted nobody could have predicted the "economic hurricane" that had swept the world.

His comments came after talks with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, the chair of the G8 group of industrialised nations, in Rome.

Mr Brown expressed hope that a deal could be reached at the forthcoming G20 summit he is hosting in London in April.

"We are trying to build for that summit a global deal, a global bargain if you like, where each continent will make its contribution to the recovery of the world economy," he said.

"And I believe that if each continent can work together to restore the financial system, to inject resources into their economies and to agree that the international institutions have got to take even greater responsibilities for action, then we will see a global bargain at the April G20 meeting that will speed up the recovery of the world economy."

The premier said he wanted to see new arrangements for global financial regulation which closed existing gaps, new oversight of under-regulated sectors and "proper" disclosure and transparency for hedge funds.

Mr Brown said: "Britain, the rest of Europe, America and now the rest of the world have been brought low by an economic hurricane that nobody could have predicted.

"Governments are having to take action to stabilise the financial system. National action alone is not going to be enough," he said.

Earlier, Mr Brown had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, where they discussed the need to help poor countries during the global economic crisis.

The Holy See said they had a "cordial" private conversation about the financial crisis "and the duty to pursue initiatives benefiting the less developed countries".

The Prime Minister also called for an agreement on the environment at the April summit.

"I believe that the recovery when it comes has to be a sustainable, low carbon recovery," he said.

Mr Brown pledged his support for the European fund, worth £4.4 billion, to support action on climate change as well as to prepare for the "digital economy".

"The action that we take now is designed to build strength for the future," he said, standing alongside Mr Berlusconi.

Mr Brown stressed the importance of not resorting to protectionist measures during the global recession.

He said: "Prime Minister Berlusconi and I are agreed also that we must maintain open economies and not resort to protectionism which would only mean less trade, less business and less jobs for the future.

"I believe that we are going to see unprecedented global co-operation over these next few months and through that we can build a consensus for action that will be taken in every continent of the world."

The Premier stressed he was "determined to address the current financial crisis in eastern Europe", adding: "I want to meet the head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and see what specific and precise action we can take to help the economies of eastern and central Europe in their present difficulties.

"I believe that by acting together we can surmount many of the difficulties."

He went on: "There are 100 million people that have been pushed into poverty around the world as a result of this economic crisis.

"We are determined that the G20 and then at the G8, that the needs of that group of people who have been pushed into unemployment and poverty will be uppermost in our minds and we will bring forward specific measures to help them during these difficult times."