Obama to meet Sarkozy, Merkel ahead of G20 summit

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US President Barack Obama will hold bilateral meetings with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday ahead of the G20 summit in Cannes.

White House officials said the president would hold the talks ahead of the summit which is likely to be dominated by Europe's efforts to combat a debt crisis and build a firewall against global financial contagion.

"These are obviously the two largest economies in the eurozone and two leaders that the president has been in very close contact with over the last weeks and months," said Ben Rhodes, a deputy US national security advisor.

"These will be important meetings, for him to have consultations with these leaders before the G20 commences."

Obama will leave for Europe on Wednesday night, and arrive in France for the summit early on Thursday.

On Friday, he will have a bilateral meeting with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, as the two sides seek to move on from a period of testy relations.

© 2011 AFP

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