France dismisses talk of replacing dollar in oil

PARIS (Reuters) - France dismissed on Tuesday as “speculation” a British newspaper report that it was in secret talks with Gulf Arab states, Russia, China and Japan to replace the U.S. dollar with a basket of currencies in trading oil.

Asked about the report in The Independent, French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde told Reuters: “Speculation, speculation. We don’t like speculation.”

Pushed further on the issue, Lagarde added: “It is not on the agenda.”

The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk cited unidentified sources in Gulf Arab states and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong for his story.

It said the proposal was for trade in crude oil to move over nine years to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen, the Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Big oil producing nations denied the report on Wednesday.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey, writing by Crispian Balmer