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Europe

French premier seeks to ease Japan's euro concerns

France's prime minister sought to ease Japanese fears over instability in the 16-member eurozone on Friday, by urging business leaders in Tokyo not to turn away from the embattled euro single currency.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon speaks before Japanese business leaders in Tokyo

Fillon asked Japanese business leaders to be patient

Europe is united on stabilizing the euro and reforming the public finances of many of the 16 states that share the single currency, said French Prime Minister Francois Fillon during a speech to Japanese business leaders in Tokyo on Friday.

He also stressed that Japan, the world's second largest economy after the United States, should not shun the fragile euro, despite a recent crisis involving debt-laden Greece.

"It is not in Japan's best interest to turn away from the euro," Fillon said, adding that the single currency had stabilized somewhat through concerted EU action.

"True, there is no doubt that the eurozone has gone through the most serious crisis in its history," said the French premier during a two-day visit to Japan. But he argued there was nothing inherently wrong with the single currency used by more than half of the 27 European Union member states.

"Was the crisis caused by the single currency? Absolutely not," he said. "We have witnessed a classic sovereign debt crisis with badly managed public finances."

Fillon said Europe's economic heavyweights, such as Germany - the EU's largest economy and the world's fourth largest - were committed to "strengthening its position as a hub of budgetary stability and growth."

The premier, who belongs to President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, also spoke of Europe's wish to see Japan drop market barriers for goods including new medicines and railway products, with a view to a possible Japan-EU free trade agreement.

"On all of these matters, we wish to see rapid and tangible progress," he said. "We are convinced that the Japanese, not only as consumers, but also as taxpayers and industrial partners, will be better off for it."

Author: Darren Mara (AP/AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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