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European, Asian Leaders Pledge Swift Global Financial Reforms

The heads of more than 40 European and Asian countries have pledged to swiftly reform the global financial system in an effort to head off the financial crisis currently enveloping most of the world’s major economies.

The flags of the 45 nations attending the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing

European and Asian leaders have pledged a united response to the financial crisis

The world leaders issued the statement Friday after the first day of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing.

"Leaders pledged to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems," said a statement posted by host China on the ASEM Web site's home page at the end of the day's meetings.

"They agreed to quickly take appropriate initiatives in this respect, in consultation with all stakeholders and the relevant international financial institutions."

While rhetoric on the reforms remained vague, several leaders called for greater supervision and tougher regulation of the world’s financial markets.

With relative consistency, most ASEM participant states called for an approach to the financial crisis that would see Asia, Europe and America work together in formulating the terms of financial reform.

"Overcoming the crisis requires global action and a joint response," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told the leaders.

"Asia and Europe are important forces in maintaining financial stability and promoting economic growth. We should join hands to show the world our confidence."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Asia's help in dealing with the crisis. "When it comes to the Washington summit on Nov. 15, Europe is going to present a united front and we will submit well-considered proposals developed together," he said.

"Europe would like Asia to support that effort, so that together

on Nov. 15 we can tell the whole world that the causes of this unprecedented crisis will never happen again."

Merkel calls for tighter supervision

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel named close monitoring of money markets and international cooperation as top priorities

In a four-point proposal to leaders at ASEM, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged greater transparency and firmer controls over financial markets as part of the solution to tackling the financial turmoil.

She listed greater transparency in financial markets as the highest priority for supporting a global recovery.

Merkel went on to speak of the need for a new structure of incentives and more control over higher risk equities. She also said the International Monetary Fund should play a firmer role as the "guardian of the financial system."

In an earlier meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Merkel said stronger international cooperation and the building of a new financial system were essential for overcoming the financial crisis.

Coming together with China

Chinese President Hu Jintao

Chinese President Hu Jintao said relations with Germany were strong

Merkel also vowed closer cooperation with China in view of the crisis.

"We are ready to work even closer with China, especially in times of economic difficulties," the conservative chancellor said.

Germany's support after the devastating Sichuan earthquake in March helped smooth German-Chinese relations after past upsets, Hu told Merkel.

Germany was the European country "which helped China most after this catastrophe," he said.

"This is a clear sign of friendship from the German government to the Chinese people," he added.

Merkel then met with Chinese intellectuals at a Beijing hotel. According to a participant, discussions included Chinese sensibilities regarding Tibet, as well as Taiwan, the developments within China's society and the effects of the Beijing Olympic Games.

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