European leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama put off planned talks on Europe’s financial crisis after discussing the turmoil at length during the first day of a Group of 20 summit, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said.
The after-dinner meeting that never was became a theme of separate briefings held by Monti, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande as each tried to dispel what Monti called “speculation” over personal dynamics. Hollande said the talks were rescheduled for today.
“We spent all day discussing the euro zone,” then at the official G-20 dinner “we also spoke about the euro zone,” Monti told reporters today in the Mexican coastal resort of Los Cabos, where world leaders began the final day of their summit.
Monti was chatting with Obama during a fireworks display after dinner when the U.S. president asked him whether they needed to meet yet again to discuss the euro zone.
“I said, ‘I don’t think so, but let me ask Merkel and Hollande,’” Monti told reporters. “And they also thought that the day had been more than rich enough with debate.”
The meeting had been arranged at Obama’s request as the G-20 focused on the sovereign debt crisis in the 17-nation euro region and its risks to the global economy. Obama has blamed the turmoil for slowing U.S. employment growth in an election year.
Merkel, the leader of Europe’s biggest economy and the dominant player in more than two years of crisis-fighting, said that the G-20 dinner was “very intense” and leaders balked at the prospect of a further meeting by mutual agreement.
“We were done, but in a good sense,” she told reporters in Los Cabos. “We had checked the topic off the list.”
For Hollande, attending his first G-20 summit after defeating Nicolas Sarkozy in May elections, the exchange over dinner “was pretty clear on what Europe had to do.”
He said that “it was agreed we’d meet today” because Obama “wants to understand what we’re going to do.”
In any case, ‘it was late,’’ Hollande said. “Notably for the Europeans.”
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