Widespread anger

Biden also said leaders hoped to address drug-related violence in the region as a problem "we all share and one whose ultimate solution we must devise together".

Discussions begin on Friday on how to respond to the crisis, which has sparked a collapse in global economies and widespread anger amid perceptions governments have failed to act appropriately.

The conference was organised by Policy Network, an international think-tank created 10 years ago by Bill Clinton, the former US president.

The summit begins a day after Brown and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, proposed the creation of a $100bn global fund to boost trade amid the global credit crunch.

World leaders are embarking on a series of meetings over the economic crisis in the next few weeks as the global recession shows little signs of fading.

Brown will also host the G20 meeting of the world's richest nations in London on April 2, while leaders from the Americas will also hold a key summit in Trinidad and Tobago from April 17 to 19.