March 24, 2009 / 7:05 PM / 10 years ago

Chile pre-G20 meeting seeks to avoid social crisis

By Simon Gardner

SANTIAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - A clutch of world leaders including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meet in Chile this week before the G20 summit to debate solutions to the global financial crisis that would safeguard the poor and the environment.

The Progressive Leaders’ Summit of center-left leaders in the beach resort town of Vina del Mar on Chile’s Pacific coast comes just days before a Group of 20 summit in London on the deepest crisis in decades, when the world’s largest economies will push for measures to foster global recovery.

"There is an unprecedented financial crisis, a climate crisis and both of those could spawn a social crisis," a source at Chile’s presidential palace said. "(The leaders) will talk about the progressive answer to the global crisis."

"The idea is to find a different way to face the crisis ... with an emphasis on social concern," he added. "This is also an opportunity for a green solution to the crisis."

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will host the summit, which will also be attended by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

The meeting will start on Friday, after a handful of the leaders take part in a panel debate to mark the end of a progressive governance conference organized by U.K.-based think-tank the Policy Network, also in Vina del Mar, and will wrap up on Saturday.

Organizers hope that ideas debated at the Chilean summit will help feed into the G20, although the two summits are not linked.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged fellow G20 leaders to agree on immediate action to help boost the global economy when they meet in London early next month. [ID:nLO217747]

Britain’s Brown said he was confident world leaders at the G20 would do "whatever it takes" to create growth and jobs.

As the summit approaches, Chile is expected to see protests by youths in the run-up to the Sunday anniversary of the "Day of the Young Combatant."

It marks the deaths of two students killed during General Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship but has become a lightning-rod for anti-capitalist protesters.

Police will mount a large security operation in Vina del Mar, although violence in past years has been focused in the capital, Santiago. (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)





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