British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's tour of the Gulf appeared to be paying dividends amid signs Saudi Arabia and Qatar were willing to increase their cooperation in international efforts to contain any further destabilizing spread of the global credit crisis, CNN reports.
After meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, Brown said that he was confident that the kingdom would contribute to the International Monetary Fund's reserves to bail out countries stricken by the global credit crisis.
Meanwhile, Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani said his country was keen to work together with other nations, noting that Qatar is not excluded from the financial turmoil that has gripped the world in recent months.
Brown is using a four-day tour of the Gulf to call on oil-rich Middle Eastern countries to be among the biggest donors to the IMF's coffers to rescue failing nations, which at $250 billion have already been depleted by emergency cash calls from Iceland, Hungary and the Ukraine totaling some $30 billion.
The British leader told reporters traveling with him that he wants "hundreds of billions" of extra dollars pledged to the IMF fund. He noted that the Middle East has significant foreign exchange reserves fueled by previous surges in the oil price.
"The Saudis will, I think, contribute so we can have a bigger fund worldwide," he said after a three-hour meeting with Abdullah late Saturday.
Analysts have argued that Gulf states will feel little impetus to bolster the IMF fund, given its domination by the United States and the G7 industrialized nations.
"They need to be involved in serious decision-making regarding the financial and economic health of the global market. It is no longer possible to leave them out," said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science at Emirates University in Al Ain. "The tendency has been a dismissive one so far, and that hasn't been wise."
A senior British government source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said that during talks, the Saudis had been concerned about becoming a "milk cow" to prop up "basket case" economies in other parts of the world.
Brown has been eager to win favor with Arab states by stressing that they have not been represented enough on international bodies and promising them a "seat at the table" as world leaders draw up plans for new international financial regulation.
Abdullah is due to attend a meeting, scheduled for November 15 in Washington, of G-20 nations to hammer out potential reform of the global financial system.
The Qatari premier said too much focus had been put on the potential of the Gulf states bailing out Western countries with which they have few ties.
"I think there is a misunderstanding. Nobody here is seeking help more than cooperation between us and Britain or any other friendly countries," he told reporters after talks with Brown.
"We are sharing the same world and we are sharing the same principles ... and I think we should look how we can help this economic crisis," he added. "Qatar is not excluded."
Abdulla said that, in return, Saudi Arabia and other energy-rich Gulf nations are likely to want to see a concerted effort by Western leaders to tone down anti-Arab rhetoric in their own countries.
"It's no longer credible to call these guys fanatics and extremists ... and make them scapegoats," the professor said.
Gulf nations are also likely to press for a tougher stance against Iran and a renewed emphasis on ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he said.
Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, who is traveling with Brown and a delegation of more than 20 senior British executives, indicated definite pledges were unlikely before the Washington meeting, noting that the talks are "a process, not an event."
While he is now attempting to woo Gulf leaders to fork out money earned from soaring oil prices, Brown has drawn ire from some oil producing states for criticizing a recent decision by OPEC to cut production by 1.5 billion barrels a day to lift prices. Crude has fallen from a high of $147 in July to under $70 currently.
Brown reiterated his calls for a "stable" crude oil price on Sunday, citing the need for "a sustainable transition to a more low carbon emissions economy for the longer-term."
Qatar's prime minister, meanwhile, backed up comments from his energy minister, Abdulla bin Hamad Al Attiyah, at an oil conference in London last week that $70-$90 a barrel would be a "fair" price to ensure investment in production to prevent future swings in the price.
Brown is also drumming up business for Britain on the trip, and on Sunday the Qatar Investment Authority pledged to invest up to 150 million pounds (around $240 million) in a joint British-Qatari fund to help the Gulf country develop and commercialize low carbon technology in the region.