- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2011

Shying away from his earlier calls for the dollar’s global dominance to be mitigated, French President Nicolas Sarkozy walked a bit of a political tightrope Monday, recognizing the U.S. dollar as “the world’s No. 1 currency” in a meeting with President Obama at the White House.

Mr. Sarkozy repeatedly has warned of the dangers to international firms posed by disparities between the euro and the dollar, and has suggested that reliance on the dollar as the world’s sole reserve currency exacerbated the financial crisis.

The French leader has called for “updating” the global monetary order — something he’s now pursuing as he holds the revolving presidencies of the Group of Eight and the Group of 20 nations. But, at least in his public comments alongside Mr. Obama, he avoided pointed rhetoric challenging the dollar’s status.

“I’ve always been a great friend, a tremendous friend of the United States, and I know how important a role the Unites States plays in the world, how important the U.S. dollar is as the world’s No. 1 currency,” Mr. Sarkozy told reporters following an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Obama.

He hinted vaguely at the need for reform, saying he is “determined to propose new ideas to get things moving.”

For his part, Mr. Obama did not mention the currency issue in his brief remarks, but said neither France nor the United States is where it wants to be in terms of economic recovery.

“There’s still too many imbalances in the world economy that are inhibiting the prospects of growth,” he said.

Mr. Obama said the two governments plan to coordinate their economic agendas “to make sure that we are as productive as possible in delivering the kinds of reforms and follow-through that will result in prosperity for peoples around the globe.”

In addition to the recovery, Mr. Obama said the two men planned to discuss a number of security issues at a working lunch, including the ongoing situations in Afghanistan, Iran, the Ivory Coast and Sudan. The French government was instrumental in assisting the United States in its quest for international sanctions against Iran, and it also contributes troops to the NATO force in Afghanistan.

Monday marked Mr. Sarkozy’s second visit with Mr. Obama at the White House.

• Kara Rowland can be reached at krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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