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Speaking at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing on Saturday, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, center, said measures beyond billion-dollar bailouts are needed to avert worldwide economic problems.

World leaders urge financial rules

SHANGHAI, China – Leaders from Asia and Europe on Saturday called for new rules and stronger regulation of the global monetary and financial system at the close of a two-day summit in Beijing as China assumed a new leadership role in the crisis.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said the world’s economic problems had become so massive that measures beyond the many billion-dollar bailout packages already announced might be necessary to avert further damage.

“We are very glad to see that many countries have taken measures that have initially proved effective. But this is not enough given the current situation, and more needs to be done,” Wen said Saturday, a day after dire corporate earnings reports from all corners of the world pushed Wall Street to a five-year low.

Wen also said stricter regulation might be key to recovery. “Lessons should be learned from the financial crisis, and the responsibilities should be clarified for governments, companies and supervision, respectively,” he said.

The Asia-Europe Meeting, last held in 2006, traditionally does not result in any policymaking. This year’s gathering, however, had taken on a new urgency as the world teeters on the edge of a global recession.

In a joint statement, the more than 40 world leaders in attendance – including Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy – said they recognized “the need to improve the supervision and regulation of all financial actors, in particular their accountability” and pledged “to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems.”

Although the leaders spoke only of broad principles and did not offer details on specific proposals, it was clear the groundwork was being laid for a Nov. 15 meeting on the crisis that President Bush is hosting in Washington.

The Beijing meeting appeared to be a victory for Sarkozy, who has taken the lead in representing his European Union colleagues in pushing for an overhaul of the world’s financial systems and the creation of a new “regulated capitalism” as soon as possible. Sarkozy has said such steps cannot wait until a new U.S. president takes office.

President Bush has said, however, that enacting ideas into law “must be a top priority for the next president and the next Congress.”

Sarkozy said Asian leaders have joined their European counterparts in expressing a “willingness for the Washington summit to be a place where we make some decisions, and we have all understood that it would not be possible to simply meet and have a discussion. We need to turn it into a decision-making forum.”

The major issues expected to be addressed by world leaders in the coming months and years include the future role of the International Monetary Fund in stabilizing economies, currency reform and measures to help prop up cross-border banks.

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