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LONDON -- President Barack Obama had more success with former Cold War combatants than with some European allies as the Group of 20 summit of world leaders began, starting new talks on arms and trade with Russia and China but facing a challenge from France and Germany over economic leadership.
Mr. Obama began by conceding U.S. culpability in starting the global financial crisis, but also called on Europe and others to do more to end it, in an opening news conference with the summit host, BritFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel answered just hours later with a combative appearance of their own, demanding fast and strict international regulation of the world financial system; Mr. Sarkozy called it "nonnegotiable."
...conceding U.S. culpability in starting the global financial crisis,
He had come, he told an audience that included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, "to listen, not to lecture." The phrase had already been telegraphed by his press team, but it was no less powerful for that, especially to an audience used to his predecessor's homilies on American views and values. More startling, Obama said the U.S. was coming to the G-20 "as a peer" of the other nations. Dismissing speculation over rifts as exaggerated, the President maintained that there had been "an extraordinary convergence."