November 4, 2011 / 12:11 PM / 8 years ago

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

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.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama before the session of the G20 Summit of major world economies in Cannes November 4, 2011. REUTERS/Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann

“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.

Recommendations that Europe learn lessons from how the United States dealt with its own financial crisis in 2008-2009 did not go down well in some European quarters when they were delivered by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Washington is also lukewarm toward any increase in the resources of the International Monetary Fund, which might dilute U.S. influence if the new money came from China or other emerging economies.

The United States says it has no plans to add additional resources itself and pointedly noted the Fund did not lack for financial firepower.

“The IMF has a substantial amount of resources to deal with a range of challenges in Europe and around the world,” said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

“We can’t speak to what other countries may do. What we do want to address is what is the role of the IMF, what type of steps does it take to help address this crisis?” he said.

Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Ralph Boulton

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