President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed how to coordinate their economic agendas leading up to meetings of the Group of Eight and Group of 20 nations.
“There are still too many imbalances in the world economy that are inhibiting the prospects of growth,” Obama said after an hour of private talks at the White House.
Sarkozy said France and the U.S. will work together on ideas for monetary reform. He said he understands the “key role” of the dollar and that it is “the world’s No. 1 currency.”
“I know what important a role the U.S. plays. I know what important a role the U.S. dollar plays in the world economy,” Sarkozy said before the two men began a working lunch.
Sarkozy this year heads the presidency of G-8 and the wider G-20 group of emerging nations, which includes China, India and Brazil. One of Sarkozy’s priorities is revamping the global monetary system to reduce the dollar’s dominance as a reserve currency, money held to pay international debts.
Sarkozy raised the monetary issue that will be on the agenda at the G-20 summit in the Mediterranean resort of Cannes Nov. 3-4.
“Our teams are going to be working very hard together to come up with common provisions on the issues which are of interest and which come into the remit of the G-20, such as currency, commodity prices and all that needs to be done in order to reduce current and present imbalances,” Sarkozy said through a translator.
French officials say their goal isn’t to dethrone the dollar. Even so, they want to open a debate to reflect changes since the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that established the U.S. currency’s role. Sarkozy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde have said the dollar’s prominence contributed to the financial crisis by encouraging global imbalances.
The U.S. emphasis has been to develop early indicators to head off economic imbalances, including the Obama administration’s appeals to China to let the yuan rise further in value over time, according to free-market forces.
“We discussed how can we coordinate our agendas to make sure that we are productive as possible and deliver the kinds of reforms and follow-through that will result in prosperity for people’s around the globe,” Obama said.
The two leaders also conferred on counterterrorism cooperation as well as global trouble spots including Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ivory Coast, Sudan and Middle East Peace efforts.
Both commented on the mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people and wounded at least 13 others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. He said the U.S. is still in shock from the attack.
‘Its important for the country as a whole, as well as for the people of Arizona that we speak directly to our sense of loss but also speaking to our hopes to the future and how out of this tragedy we can come together stronger,” Obama said.
Sarkozy said the French people were “moved and upset” by the Arizona tragedy.
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