Bigger role for Asia, LatAm

PITTSBURGH - THE Group of 20 approved a greater voice for Asian and Latin American countries in a historic shift that recognises the rising influence of both regions.The leaders of the world's 20 largest economies were attending a two-day meeting dedicated to fostering a healthy global recovery, and European leaders were expected to secure a priority of their own: limits on bankers' bonuses.

But the economic developments were overshadowed Friday by the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear facility. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared together to demand that Iran fully disclose its nuclear ambitions and threatened new sanctions.

The decision to raise the profile of the G-20 represents a major change and underscores how the world's balance of power has shifted in the last 40 years.

The leaders decided the G-20 will serve as the board of directors on global economic cooperation, a function that for more than three decades had been performed by a smaller club: the US, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and later Russia. The G-20 includes such developing economies as China, Brazil and India.

The G-8 will, however, continue to meet on matters of common importance such as national security, the White House said late Thursday.

The Pittsburgh meeting marked the third G-20 leaders summit in less than a year as the countries continued to grapple with a debilitating downturn that has resulted in millions of unemployed around the world, the loss of trillions of dollars in wealth and massive amounts of government stimulus spending designed to jump-start economic growth.

The leaders trickled into Pittsburgh throughout Thursday - most of them in from New York, where they attended the opening of the UN General Assembly. Later, they gathered with their spouses for a welcoming reception at a botanical reserve, before parting for separate banquets Thursday night. -- AP


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