Germany denies leaking G20 spending plan

Monday, 30 March 2009, 02:29 Hrs
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Berlin: The German government denied rumors Sunday that it had deliberately leaked a draft document, prepared by the British hosts of next week's G20 summit, outlining multi-trillion-dollar spending targets to be agreed by the world's 20 leading economies.

The document, obtained by German Spiegel news magazine, said the G20 leaders planned to agree to economic stimulus measures amounting to $2 trillion (1.5 trillion euros) during their summit in London on April 2.

These measures were estimated to increase economic growth by two percent and create 19 million jobs, according to the leaked statement.

British media reports suggest that the draft communique was deliberately released by the German government, which is opposed to additional spending plans.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that there were "suspicions that the leak was a deliberate act of sabotage by sources within the German government," while The Times newspaper refers to "suggestions of 'dirty tricks' by Berlin".

Proposals for additional economic stimuli, favoured by US President Barack Obama, have met with firm opposition in Europe, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spearheaded opposition to further spending programmes.

The German government press office Sunday denied claims that it had deliberately leaked the G20 blueprint. "We don't forward such documents," a spokesman told DPA.

Since the communique had reached many people within the finance ministry, it couldn't be ruled out however that someone had passed it on.

Downing Street immediately played down the document, saying this was an old draft, and the figures were out of date.

A spokesman said the sum of $2 trillion amounted to a bundle of measures already agreed to, and did not actually represent additional spending.

During the last month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made overtures to the Obama administration, backing calls for additional government spending to ease the financial crisis.

At the same time, however, Brown committed to European plans to focus on market regulation rather than leverage new stimulus programmes, at a series of preliminary meetings in Berlin and Brussels.

In an attempt to downplay differences between Europe and the US, the White House said over the weekend that Obama would not make demands for new economic stimulus programmes by the other members of the G20 at the London summit.

During a video conference between Obama and Merkel on Friday, both leaders agreed that market reform would be the key issue on the meeting's agenda, a German government spokesman said.
Source: IANS
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