Britain's Brown calls for action on global economy

By: By EDITH M. LEDERER
By: By EDITH M. LEDERER

NEW YORK (AP) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Wednesday for international action to stabilize the global economy and predicted closer relations between the United States and Europe as divisions over the Iraq war come to an end.

On a whirlwind day in New York before heading to Washington, Brown addressed the U.N. Security Council, urging Zimbabwe to ensure that the presidential election isn't "stolen." He then met Mayor Michael Bloomberg and had lunch with leading U.S. bankers and financial executives.

Over breakfast with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he discussed Afghanistan, rising food prices, U.N. reforms and a high-level meeting in September on fighting global poverty, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

Despite uncertainty in the global economy and domestic complaints over his response to the global credit crunch, Brown said he believes Britain and America can enjoy a new decade of growth.

He called for coordinated international action "so that the economy is more stable and, of course, (that) we continue to see growth."

Brown said he favors the development of international rules that would speed up the process of investment and commercial banks writing down the value of real estate and other financial investments that have declined in value but are not yet listed on balance sheets.

Several banks in the U.S. and Europe, including Citigroup Inc., have taken multibillion-dollar write-downs, but investors are still nervous that many more losses have yet to be disclosed.

"What I believe we've got to see is coordinated international action to ensure that there is proper disclosure and transparency so that the write-offs that have got to take place as a result of off-balance-sheet activities can happen quickly, ... expeditiously, ... openly," he told reporters at the U.N.

Then, Brown said, "people can be satisfied that a return of confidence is based on the write-offs being done in that transparent way."

Brown and President Bush will hold talks at the White House on Thursday and then meet reporters in the Rose Garden. But his visit - the second since replacing Tony Blair last June - is being overshadowed by Pope Benedict XVI's current U.S. trip.

In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Brown predicted that Europe and the United States would grow closer in coming years.

That, he said, would partly be because of the election of key European leaders less critical of U.S. actions in Iraq than their predecessors - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italy's prime minister-elect, Silvio Berlusconi.

"I think Europe and America are going to work more closely together in the years to come," he said. "It's partly because the divisions within Europe over Iraq will come to an end."

Berlusconi, the billionaire media mogul and staunch U.S. ally who sent 3,000 soldiers to Iraq during a former stint as prime minister, won Italy's parliamentary elections on Monday.

Brown said Britain's drawdown in southern Iraq shows that Western nations can successfully reduce their roles, despite a recent outbreak in intra-Shiite fighting that drew British troops back into the fight.

In addition to talks with Bush, Brown said he looked forward to meeting the presidential candidates, saying he will discusss "what they want to do about the environment." He added he welcomes Bush's call Wednesday for a halt in the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

In his speech to a high-level U.N. Security Council meeting on Africa, the British leader focused on the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe, urging the government to respect the will of the people and not rig the election.

"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," Brown warned.

After 18 days, Zimbabwean electoral officials have yet to say whether President Robert Mugabe or opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won March 29 presidential elections.

Brown said "no one thinks, having seen the results at polling stations, that president Mugabe has won this election."

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