World leaders report economic summit progress

World leaders prepared on Saturday to adopt broad outlines to attack weak spots in the global financial system on three fronts, with plans to meet again early in 2009 to fine-tune efforts to end the worldwide economic downturn and guard against major economic upheavals in the future. European officials at the extraordinary Group of 20 summit in the US capital said a draft agreement among the world leaders likely would call for intensified government efforts at bolstering national economies, cooperation on international regulation of the financial system and reform of global structures to aide needy developing countries. Signaling a shift away from the traditional global economic dominance of the United States, the European Union and Japan, developing economic powerhouses from China to Brazil took a seat at the meetings. The International Monetary Fund has reported expectations that worldwide growth next year would be fueled by such countries even as US, EU and Japanese economies shrink. In comments to reporters on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted the shift. "It is the first time that emerging and developing countries are meeting together in this way and are really in with both feet. In this respect it is a new beginning in a very, very difficult situation. It gives hope that policies can operate jointly," she said. "The world financial summit will adopt an action plan here today and thus demonstrate the international community's ability to act."