WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will meet Friday to discuss the fiscal problems that have both their economies reeling.
In announcing the visit Thursday, Brown's office said the two will discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well, but the tribulations of global economic instability will be at the top of their agenda.
Brown said Thursday one purpose of the White House meeting is for him to convey his support for Bush's $700 billion economic bailout of the U.S. financial markets, which appeared in question late Thursday.
The prime minister, at the United Nations in New York, said he hoped his testimony for the rescue package would help get it through Congress before members leave next week to campaign for re-election.
"We are doing everything in our power to ensure that there is stability, and that is stability for people's jobs, for people's mortgages, for people's standards of living," Brown said in New York, where he held talks on Wall Street after addressing the U.N. General Assembly.
Neither Bush nor Brown is flush with political capital as they meet.
Bush is in his last four months in office after two four-year terms. The plight of the economy, piled atop national antagonism toward the Iraq war and other perceived presidential shortcomings, has his popularity rating around 30 percent.
That is off his lows of a few months ago but remains among the lowest of any president since modern polling techniques were introduced in the 1940s.
Brown spent 10 years as the treasury chief in the cabinet of his predecessor, Tony Blair, and has built a reputation with the British public as a dour micromanager. His position at the top of Britain's economy won him praise in boom times, but the collapse of Britain's housing market and increased inflation have cost him dearly.
His popularity had sunk so low that members of his own Labour Party openly challenged his leadership early this month, fanning rumors that Brown could be removed before the next general election, due in less than two years.
However a well-received speech before the Labour's annual conference Tuesday has taken some of the pressure off, and Brown hopes that a visible role in tackling the world's economic woes will give him an opportunity to bring some of the shine back to his financial credentials.
Brown replaced Blair, Bush's chief ally in Iraq, last June.