ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday called on the new U.S. president to show further leadership on the global economy and not retreat into protectionism.
Speaking at an international oil conference here, Brown also for the first time explicitly stated that Gulf states should have a greater say in the governance of the International Monetary Fund in return for contributing to a bailout fund for collapsing economies.
"The next stage of globalization will require even more international cooperation with American leadership central to its success," Brown said on the eve of Tuesday's poll that will decide between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
Brown said that U.S. leadership has been vital in achieving coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks around the world and in setting up a meeting of the G-20 industrialized nations to hammer out a new economic order on Nov. 15.
"And I know that leadership will and must continue," he said at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.
"In the coming weeks and months, the whole world will want to work closely with America on a shared common agenda to bring growth and jobs back to our economies; to give greater stability to our financial system; to defeat protectionism in favor of free trade; and of course to work for a more secure world — and here in the Middle East, to work toward peace."
Asked afterward if Brown was concerned that there would be a vacuum in the United States as the new president settled in, the British leader's spokesman Michael Ellam said he has "every confidence that the transition will be managed in a way ... that will ensure that is not the case."
Ellam added that solutions to the current economic crisis could only be "effective and lasting" if the United States showed "full engagement."
Brown has used his four-day tour of the Gulf, taking in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, to press oil-rich Middle Eastern countries to be among the biggest donors to the IMF's coffers to rescue failing nations, which at $250 billion have already been depleted by emergency cash calls from Iceland, Hungary and the Ukraine totaling some $30 billion.
The British leader told reporters traveling with him that he wants "hundreds of billions" of extra dollars pledged to the IMF fund, noting that the Middle East has significant foreign exchange reserves fueled by earlier surges in the oil price.
After meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani earlier on the trip, he has said he is confident that Gulf states will be willing to help.
He is due to meet with UAE leaders later Monday.
Asked if funds would be forthcoming, Ellam told reporters that talks had been positive: "I think we are seeing real engagement."
Analysts have suggested that Arab states would be unwilling to contribute to the U.S. and G-7 dominated IMF, and Brown on Monday spelled out that the structure of the IMF needed to change to reflect rising power in the Gulf.
"It is in all our interests to stop this contagion and to rebuild confidence in the global financial system," he said. "And I very much accept the argument that countries which do contribute in this way should have a greater say in the overall governance of the IMF, and this is part of our ambitions for reform."
Earlier Sunday, Brown visited the Al Udeid air base in the Qatari desert, where some 8,000 U.S. airmen are based, carrying out missions to Iraq.