Obama takes new financial reform package to economic summits

President Barack Obama arrived in Canada for an international economic summit Friday armed with a new financial reform package nearly ready for his signature.

The sweeping changes included in the conference report deal reached early Friday morning are expected to serve as a basis for reforms in other countries, and Obama will be talking about the legislation with his counterparts.

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White House aides on Friday were quick to acknowledge the importance of the deal, which congressional leaders had aimed to reach by the G-20 summit. Congress is expected to vote on the report next week.

“It’s a significant reform of the financial system in the biggest economy in the world,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

“I think it demonstrates to the world the steps that we have to continue to take globally in order to ensure that we don't find ourselves in a situation like we did two years ago -- and just a tremendously important step as we come here to discuss the state of the recovering world economy.”

In comments at the White House early Friday, Obama noted that the agreement reflected “90 percent” of what he wanted on financial reform.

Obama attended a working lunch and break-out sessions for the G-8 part of the weekend summit on Friday in Muskoka, a town north of Toronto. The president is scheduled on Friday evening to participate in a working dinner with other world leaders.

On Saturday, Obama will participate in a discussion on "peace and security issues" like North Korea, Iran and the Middle East before joining Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a press conference.

Later Saturday, the president will travel to Toronto for the G-20, which convenes with dinner Saturday night.

Conversations on the global economic recovery and European debt crisis are expected to dominate talks, and in the week before the summit, administration officials traded statements and op-eds with leaders in Germany over whether the global focus should be on reducing budget deficits or continuing spending to spark economic growth.

Obama has pushed other world leaders to not let stimulus spending take a back seat to deficit cuts, but Germany, France and the United Kingdom are all focused on cutting their budgets.

The deal on the Wall Street conference report comes at a welcome time for the administration, as it gives Obama something to tout at the summit.

Gibbs, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, said the U.S. had led the world in the economic recovery and in reforming financial systems that led to the global recession. He said Obama would arrive at the G20 with the U.S. leading the world on financial reform.

The summit is an opportunity “to build on the work that’s been done domestically, economically, in terms of restoring growth [and] renewing our financial system,” said one senior administration official. Obama will also talk about how the reforms to the banking sector have put the U.S. in a position of strength going forward.

Obama has several bilateral meetings planed during the weekend. Obama will meet one-on-one with the leaders of the United Kingdom, South Korea, China, India and Japan.

Obama will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday for the first time.

One official joked that the two men will “be able to discuss the victory of the United States in the group that both the United States and England were in in the World Cup.” The U.S. plays Ghana in the knockout round on Saturday, while England faces Germany on Sunday.