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EU tells China to be patient

EUROPE is comfortable with China's growing world role but believes the G20 summit will be too early to decide on China's calls for more say in global financial bodies, the EU Commissioner for External Relations said yesterday.

Visiting European Union Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in Beijing that the London gathering of 20 major wealthy and developing countries this week would focus on "concrete results" to revive the global economy, not more distant issues.

China caused a stir ahead of the Thursday summit when it suggested the world move to greater use of IMF special drawing rights as an international reserve currency.

"I don't think this will be the question that really will be discussed thoroughly in London," Ferrero-Waldner said after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

Likewise, she said, China's call for a bigger role in the International Monetary Fund and other international financial bodies would not be a focus of the summit.

"I think it's too early for us to give a really concrete answer," she said of these calls. "I think it is within the IMF, it is within the international financial institutions, that these questions have to be discussed."

The idea of a new reserve currency system based on the IMF special drawing rights has not been entirely knocked down, but many G20 leaders have made clear that, for now, the US dollar's status as the dominant reserve unit remains.

Ferrero-Waldner said China's growing economic clout naturally meant more of an international role for the country.

"With the prosperity of China's economy, we of course have seen more self-assertiveness in policy and diplomacy," she said, adding that China had taken a "very constructive attitude" in many international issues, such as climate change negotiations.

Ferrero-Waldner said she hoped China and the EU would seal a new framework treaty governing their ties by the end of the year.

The commissioner arrived in China yesterday on a two-day visit.


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