Sarkozy threatens walkout if demands are not met
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to walk away from the G20 summit in London if leaders of the world's biggest economies refuse to address calls for tighter global financial regulations.
AFP - France is prepared to "walk away" from the G20 summit if it fails to secure agreement on issues it wants, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told BBC television in comments released Tuesday.
"President Sarkozy was very clear on that front, he said if the deliverables are not there, I won't sign the communique," Lagarde, who spoke in English, told the BBC. "It means walking away. I think he's very determined."
Her comments suggest France is trying to raise the stakes ahead of Thursday's G20 summit on the world economic crisis in a bid to secure agreement on tougher regulation of the financial sector.
On a visit to the central French town of Chatelleraut to promote plans for economic recovery, Sarkozy said there was "no choice" but for the summit to get results.
"The crisis is too serious for us to hold a summit for nothing," he added.
Earlier, French officials had said US President Barack Obama had yet to be convinced by calls for international regulation.
While the US favours fiscal stimulus to tackle the effects of the credit crunch, European nations led by France and Germany are sceptical of such an approach, favouring tighter regulation of financial bodies like hedge funds and other measures including a crackdown on tax havens.
Amid fears the London summit will be split over how to deal with the crisis, French officials have stepped up the pressure, warning Sarkozy would rather air the issues through a public dispute than accept a vague consensus.
"The risk is not of a failure, but of a false success -- a deal on phrases that sound good, but commit us to nothing. That's the real risk," a French presidential source told reporters on Monday.
According to Le Figaro, a right-wing daily with close contacts in Sarkozy's entourage, the president himself expressed views similar to Lagarde's comments earlier this month.
"If there's no progress in London, there'll be an empty chair. I'll get up and leave," Sarkozy said on the sidelines of a March 18 cabinet meeting, the paper's front page report said Tuesday.