U.S. influence at G20 not diminished, White House says

Fri Nov 4, 2011 8:04am EDT
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By Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis

CANNES, France (Reuters) - White House officials bristled on Thursday at the suggestion U.S. power within the G20 had been diminished by budget woes back home, as Europe looked toward an economically self-confident China for help.

"Our ability to contribute, our ability to lead and our ability to influence the outcome of these sorts of issues is not tied necessarily to having the American taxpayer pay for every problem," said top White House aide Michael Froman.

European officials hope to coax China into using some of its massive foreign exchange reserves to play a role in a euro zone rescue fund, although Beijing has so far not publicly voiced its intentions.

Domestic U.S. politics currently rules out any grand financial gesture for Europe by President Barack Obama.

His Democrats are battling Republicans to agree deep deficit cuts amid high U.S. unemployment -- something that could hold the key to his hopes for reelection next year.

With spending cuts placing U.S. foreign aid in the crossfire of this bitter election campaign issue, Washington has made no suggestion that it might come to Europe's aid.

Instead, the White House argues Europe has the resources to help itself, while the fact the U.S. economy remains the world's largest means that its views still carry great weight.

"Across all of the issues on the G20 agenda, countries look to the United States for ideas, for advice on issues that they are working through," Froman said.   Continued...