Cameron set for talks with Hollande

Halesowen News: French President Francois Hollande is to have his first face-to-face meeting with David Cameron (AP Photo/Michel Euler) French President Francois Hollande is to have his first face-to-face meeting with David Cameron (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

David Cameron is to hold his first face-to-face talks with Francois Hollande as they join world leaders in the US for a G8 summit set to be dominated by the eurozone crisis.

The Prime Minister has expressed confidence he will find "common ground" with the new socialist French president who swept to power on a promise of putting growth before austerity.

Mr Cameron has said that while he would do "whatever it takes" to shelter the UK from the fallout of the Greek debt crisis, the coalition's tough deficit-reduction strategy would stay. But in an eve-of-summit article he put action to promote growth at the head of a wishlist of results from the gathering - and said he would push for new trade deals to achieve it.

Success at the G8 required "frank discussions on the issues that matter most for our security and prosperity" including "the resolve to return our own economies to strong and sustainable growth", he wrote on the Politics Home website amid mounting fears of a break-up of the single currency.

Mr Cameron will sit down with his French counterpart in Washington for talks ahead of the full-scale discussions on how to prevent the eurozone crisis spiralling into a global disaster. On their agenda will also be Afghanistan - with the PM expected to press Mr Hollande about an election pledge to withdraw its 3,400 troops from the country this year.

Mr Cameron said Mr Hollande was not proposing extra spending and actually wanted to balance the books quicker than the British government was planning.

"Even with the election of a socialist president in France, he's actually said 'how am I going to stimulate the economy, I'm not going to do it through extra public spending, because actually we've got to cut back on that'," Mr Cameron told ITV1's Daybreak. "His target for balancing his budget is actually a faster target than we have here in the UK."

The Prime Minister admitted that events in the eurozone were "truly worrying" for the UK. And Chancellor George Osborne later said that the "storms" from the eurozone crisis threatened to set back the countries of eastern and central Europe which have developed into market economies since the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago.

At a conference in London of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - set up to aid the transition of former Soviet bloc states - Mr Osborne said: "Even those countries that have made the greatest progress still need assistance, more so now than perhaps a couple of years ago, because the financial crisis has led to significant instability as the foreign banks that dominate central and eastern European banking have undergone aggressive deleveraging.

"As the storms of the eurozone crisis gather again, there is a risk that some of the good work in building a stable financial sector and creating jobs and prosperity might unwind. Like the UK, the region's growth prospects are closely tied to those of the euro area and deleveraging magnifies this effect."

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