Los Cabos, Mexico
Leaders from the world's largest industrialized and emerging economies kick off the G-20 summit in Mexico on Monday with the aim of boosting a sluggish global economic recovery.
Officially the summit will largely focus on one of the primary causes of the recovery's lethargy, a persistent weakness in the 17 countries that use the euro as their national currency.
Preparing for the meeting in the wake of parliamentary elections in Greece -- arguably the most troubled country in the eurozone -- White House officials expressed optimism that the new Greek government would remain committed to a solution that would keep the country in the European monetary union.
"As President Obama and other world leaders have said, we believe that it is in all our interests for Greece to remain in the euro area while respecting its commitment to reform," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement responding to the election results.
A rocky election in Greece that would result in its departure from the eurozone was one of the greatest fears coming into the summit, and while that fear appears to have been averted for now, the United States still expects European leaders to lay out a plan for dealing with the effects of the distressed Greek economy moving forward.
"We expect to hear more of this in Los Cabos (Mexico), showing that they are fundamentally committed to evolving the euro area in a way that makes the monetary union much stronger by virtue of having a more banking union, more fiscal union, more political union," Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard told reporters in a briefing just days before the start of the summit.
Concrete commitments coming out of the summit are unlikely, but members of the Obama administration sounded hopeful that global leaders would leave Mexico with a united voice calling for growth.
"This isn't a meeting where we expect Europeans to make decisions about Europe," said Mike Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economics. "You'll have four out of 17 eurozone members there. You'll have five out of 27 European Union members there, plus of course (European Council President Herman) Van Rompuy and (European Commission President Jose Manuel) Barroso.
"So this is an opportunity -- and we'll be encouraging them to take this opportunity -- to lay out a vision of where they want to take Europe and the eurozone going forward, and how they want to address these issues. But this is not a meeting where we expect them to come and make decisions for all of Europe."
While avoiding an economic contagion is central to the G-20's formal mission, many eyes will also be trained on the first bilateral meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and newly reelected Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has recently blocked two resolutions in the U.N. Security Council targeted at putting a stop to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brutal attacks on civilians, deepening a divide that has darkened an otherwise resurgent relationship between the United States and its former Cold War foe.
Prior to the summit, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that the United States continues to work to get Russia to agree with its position that al-Assad must relinquish power.
"We've been working to get the Russians to come in line with, frankly, the broad international community," Rhodes said. "This is not just an issue between the United States and Russia, it's really an issue between the international community, on the one hand, that is expressing support for a real transition in Syria, and the Syrian government, which has, of course, resisted those steps.
"So we'll continue to work through that area of difference with the Russians because we believe that they can play a role, again, in pressing the Assad regime and supporting a political transition."
In addition to Obama's meeting with Putin on Monday morning, Obama also will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. The two leaders are expected to discuss China's role in ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as China's role in spurring growth.
By Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Dan Lothian, CNN, June17, 2012