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British PM addresses US Congress

BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown is taking his message of faith in free markets to the United States Congress, where law makers have been eager to protect American businesses against foreign competition.

Brown was addressing Congress yesterday, one day after he became the first European leader to meet President Barack Obama in the White House.

The speech to a joint meeting of Congress, an honor reserved for close US allies, was a useful stage for Brown, who is seeking a boost at home from his US visit.

On Tuesday, Brown looked to coordinate US and British approaches to fix the world economy. The two leaders sat down in the Oval Office for about an hour and shared a working lunch afterwards in the White House's residential area. It was their third meeting, although their first since Obama became president.

Brown came into the session hoping to reach agreement with Obama on a pact, which he can then take into a global financial summit of advanced and developing nations that the British leader is chairing in London early next month.

Brown has been arguing for what he calls a "global New Deal," a reference to the sweeping Depression-era US policy that overhauled the banking and financial systems, plowed money into public works and created the Social Security pension program for Americans.

"What it means is that every country should be contributing to bringing an end to this downturn," Brown said in a television interview aired Tuesday night on ABC News's "Nightline."

"We've got to enlist all the energies of people in different parts of the world to deal with problems that we all face," Brown said.

Brown wants the same banking standards governing transparency, accountability and other issues that apply in the US and Britain to apply to institutions in other nations, particularly those in Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Obama said that he and Brown discussed how to make sure all the world's major economies, developed and developing, are coordinating to stimulate their economies and make sure that "there are a common set of principles, in terms of how we're approaching banking, so that problems that exist in emerging markets like Hungary or the Ukraine don't have these enormous ripple effects that wash back onto our shores."

Brown took his tough economic message yesterday to US law makers, who have been criticized by trading partners recently for passing a massive stimulus bill that included measures that favor US companies over foreign competitors.

In a BBC interview, Brown was repeatedly asked whether he was sorry for the events that preceded the downturn.

"We should have been tougher in some areas," Brown acknowledged in the interview that aired yesterday.


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