Obama, world leaders will phase out G-8

PITTSBURGH — President Barack Obama and other world leaders have decided to make the G-20 the "premier forum" for their international cooperation, essentially eliminating the G-8 as the leading global group.

Specifically, the White House announced Friday the G-20 would now be at "the center of their efforts to work together to build a durable recovery while avoiding the financial fragilities that led to the crisis."

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The White House said that in the lead-up to the G-20 summit, the president had been asking other leaders "to reform global economic institutions to meet the needs of an interconnected global economy."

"This decision brings to the table the countries needed to build a stronger, more balanced global economy, reform the financial system and lift the lives of the poorest," the White House said.

The announcement comes after the decision in April to expand both the Financial Stability Board and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information to include all member countries of the G-20.

The president hinted that such a move was coming at the last G-8 summit in D'Aquila, Italy, in July when the president said he and other world leaders "have to update and refresh and renew the international institutions that were set up in a different time and place."

"What I've noticed is everybody wants the smallest possible group, smallest possible organization, that includes them," Obama said. "So if they're the 21st-largest nation in the world, then they want the G21, and think it's highly unfair if they've been cut out."

At the time, Obama said it was "wrongheaded" to conduct global summits without including giants like China, Brazil and India.

"So they are going to have to be included in these conversations," he said. "To have entire continents like Africa or Latin America not adequately represented in these major international forums and decision-making bodies is not going to work."

Tony Fratto, a former Treasury and Bush administration spokesman, said that the change was "inevitable" because the exclusion of so many countries meant the G-8 was "going to need to be reformed and expanded anyway."