France says to act with Germany for euro

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France and Germany are ready "to do everything, absolutely everything" to ensure the stability of the eurozone, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a speech in London on Thursday.

"Of this there must never be any doubt: euro area states, and especially France and Germany, are ready to do everything, absolutely everything, to ensure the euro area's stability," Fillon told business leaders.

He was speaking at the start of his first official visit to Britain since he became prime minister in 2007, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Fillon added: "The euro area is Europe's monetary heart, and no one should have any doubt about the determination of the whole European Union to safeguard it. It's an absolute political and economic priority."

His comments come amid investor unease that the debt crisis that forced multi-billion-euro bailouts of Greece and Ireland last year could spread to Portugal, and possibly even to bigger economies such as Spain, Belgium and Italy.

After pulling off a successful bond sale on Wednesday worth 1.25 billion euros (1.6 billion dollars), Portugal said it had passed a key test of its credit standing on the international markets.

But analysts were cautious, arguing that a bailout remains a real possibility.

Spain succeeded on Thursday in reaching its maximum 3.0-billion-euro target in a five-year bond sale, although it paid sharply higher rates than in the last such auction in November.

In an interview with The Times newspaper ahead of his one-day visit, Fillon said he would be urging Cameron to back deeper European integration to save the euro or risk disaster in his own economy if the currency fails.

"I want to tell you that, throughout this crisis, the British authorities have been solid partners, respecting our differences," he said.

He added that Britain "has played her part in the joint effort, agreeing to a limited revision of the Treaty and contributing to the recent emergency plans -- I'm thinking particularly of Ireland."

Although Britain has not adopted the single European currency, it is a major contributor to the International Monetary Fund-European Union bailout of debt-wracked Ireland, which is a eurozone member.

© 2011 AFP

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