G20 struggles to move beyond vows of cooperation

A deeply divided G20 struggled to move beyond broad promises of economic cooperation as world leaders gathered in Seoul for a two-day summit on Thursday.

Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the United States was pursuing a policy of weakening the dollar, adding fuel to an already heated Group of 20 debate over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s bond-buying spree to revive the economy.

The G20 club of rich and emerging economies had hoped to use the summit to soothe tensions over foreign exchange rates that have been created by sharply divergent economic growth rates. President Barack Obama urged his peers to put aside differences and follow through on previous agreements to even out imbalances between cash-rich exporting nations and debt-burdened importers.

Thursday’s agenda included dozens of bilateral meetings as well as ceremonies to mark the Veterans Day holiday. The summit officially kicks off with a working dinner Thursday night and a full day of meetings on Friday.

Behind the scenes, negotiators met for a third day to hash out the language in a closing statement to be issued at the summit’s conclusion on Friday. The final version may not venture far beyond agreements reached by G20 finance ministers last month, yet it still proved difficult to agree on the wording.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said a “little bit” of progress had been made since the October finance ministers meeting in Gyeongju, South Korea, but deep divisions remained over how best to reduce current account imbalances.

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