US reaction: Soros clashes with Brown over 'blank cheque'

Anne Penketh
Friday 26 September 2008 00:00

Gordon Brown will make a surprise visit to Washington today for talks with President George Bush on the global financial meltdown after declaring strong support for America's $700bn bailout plan.

The Prime Minister, who exchanged views with 18 Wall Street investment managers at a "very constructive" breakfast meeting in New York yesterday, will head to Washington for the previously unscheduled meeting after delivering a speech to the UN General Assembly. He is expected to criticise international financial institutions and spell out his philosophy of managed globalisation which he believes could stave off future crises.

The economic upheaval overshadowed a special UN summit on development aid at which Mr Brown eloquently appealed to donor countries to defy the budget crunch in order to save the poorest of the poor.

The summit with Mr Bush has been scheduled after British Government officials denied suggestions that the former chancellor had been "snubbed" by the US Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson.

Mr Brown's support for the bailout brought him into conflict however with one of Wall Street's most powerful players, George Soros, who was one of his breakfast guests yesterday. Mr Soros is known as "the man who broke the Bank of England" for his 1992 intervention against the pound.

But Mr Brown, speaking outside the UN, said that he had been consulting Wall Street financiers and government leaders from all continents in New York in order to "back up the action" President Bush is taking.

"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," he said.

In his speech to the emergency poverty summit, Mr Brown argued that world leaders still needed to meet their UN commitments to halve world poverty by 2015, and announced a total of $16bn in new funding from donor countries. "Some say this time of financial turbulence is the time to put our ambitions on hold, to cut back or postpone the dream of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but this would be the worst time to turn back."

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