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G-20 leaders agree to next economic steps

They pledge a more coordinated response to the global financial crisis, including stronger regulation.

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World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the summit was a positive start. He praised China's $580 billion stimulus package and called on other nations to initiate government spending initiatives of their own.

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"What matters now are the follow-up actions," said Mr. Zoellick.

Zoelick's singling-out of China for praise in some ways was indicative of the importance of the meeting. It may have marked a passage of sorts, with the old G-7 major industrialized nations supplanted as a steering group by the larger G-20, which includes the G-7, members of the European Union, and major emerging economies such as China, India, Russia, and South Korea.

This is important because these countries have deserved a seat at the global economic table, said Eswar Prasad, a Brookings Institution senior fellow on international economics, at the Brookings seminar.

"The big issue is whether they [will] have the influence that goes with it, and I think that will require a much more substantive change ... in the way the major economies of the G-8 deal with these [emerging nation] economies," said Mr. Prasad.

The scheduled April meeting is likely to be a G-20 conference also. The old G-7 may now become something like a caucus within that larger group.

With this change the world may now confront a particular, important issue.

"That is how to integrate Asia into what has been a transatlantic-biased world of the IMF, the World Bank, and the G-7 ... summits," said Brookings' Mr. Bradford.

Given his preelection rhetoric, it may be likely that President-elect Obama will embrace the expansion of this exclusive world club. Mr. Obama himself did not attend the meeting, saying it would be inappropriate. Instead, he dispatched a team of emissaries, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

European nations have long been more comfortable with the idea of cross-border regulation than has the United States. Despite the replacement of a Republican administration with a Democratic one, this is unlikely to change, according to some experts.

"An Obama administration wouldn't be willing to accept a global regulator. That's a step too far," said Brad Setser, a fellow for geoeconomics at the Council on Foreign Relations, at a CFR seminar.

But Obama is likely to accept deeper regulatory reforms at the national level, said Mr. Setser. And his administration is likely to be more willing to join in some new coordinated global effort to use government stimulus efforts to try to limit the extent of the world's downturn.

Obama signaled as much in a radio address over the weekend.

"If Congress does not pass an immediate plan that gives the economy the boost it needs, I will make it my first order of business as president," he said.r Associated Press material was used in this report.