Lee counts down to G-20 with currency war talk

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Lee counts down to G-20 with currency war talk


President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at a luncheon with foreign correspondents in Korea in the Blue House yesterday. [NEWSIS]

President Lee Myung-bak and his office ratcheted up efforts yesterday to prepare for November’s Group of 20 Summit, Korea’s largest diplomatic event ever.

In a meeting with his senior secretaries, Lee was briefed on the security measures and other plans for the G-20 Summit, which takes place on Nov. 11 and 12. A special summit of international business leaders is also taking place on Nov. 10.

Lee then had a luncheon with dozens of journalists from around the world at the special guest house inside the Blue House compound. Noting that various important issues provoked by the global financial crisis will be discussed at the summit, Lee urged the media’s cooperation to ensure the success of the meeting.

Lee also answered questions from reporters, including what Korea, as the host and chair of the summit, will do about the latest currency dispute between China and the United States. Japan has also intervened to weaken the yen, and all around the globe, countries are looking at exchange rates as sources of friction.

“I believe the currency issue can be discussed as a topic at the summit,” Lee was quoted as saying. “When the world fails to resolve the currency issue as well as other policy problems, and countries insist on defending their own interests, protectionism will rise and that will seriously worsen the global economic recovery.”

Lee said it is desirable for the currency dispute to be settled before the G-20 Summit. “Korea will do its best before the G-20 Summit for such an agreement,” he said.

While Lee did not name a specific country, China is under pressure from the United States and Europe to let its currency grow stronger to smooth out growing trade imbalances. Beijing has bluntly rejected the demand, making the issue the mostly hotly debated topic in the global economy.

In the afternoon, Lee was given another briefing by the G-20 organizing committee about the preparations. “A comprehensive review was done,” said Kim Hee-jung, presidential spokeswoman. “The Blue House’s calendar is now set for the G-20, and we will renew our determination every day.”

At the briefing, Lee once again stressed Korea’s role in settling the global currency war. “The global economy in the 21st century is unstable, but we must reach an agreement [on the currency issue] and support the world to overcome the crisis, achieve sustainable growth, and contribute to transform imbalance to balance,” Lee said. “That’s the best role Korea can play in this century. We must let Koreans know about this.”

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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