ROME: Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi yesterday lent his voice to European complaints about the strong euro, saying he had talked at length about the matter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was also concerned.
"I am worried, yesterday I had a long telephone conversation with Merkel and we exchanged our worries," Prodi said.
A German government spokesman did not confirm that Prodi and Merkel had discussed foreign exchange issues nor Prodi's account that Merkel was "worried" about the strength of the euro.
"They discussed the international financial markets, among other issues," the spokesman in Berlin said.
"They both said quite clearly that the developments on the financial markets have to be closely monitored," he said, adding the two leaders had also reaffirmed the importance of the European Central Bank's (ECB) independence.
European officials have expressed mounting concerns in recent weeks as the euro has scaled new highs against the dollar and Europe is expected to push for new and forthright wording on the issue from the G7 when it meets in Washington this month.
The dollar has rebounded somewhat since the euro hit a record high of $1.4281.
France, which has been most vocal in calling for a weaker euro, said other European countries were moving into line.
"On the policy of euro/yen, euro/yuan, euro/dollar, in the current circumstances, you see a sort of convergence towards the French position," she said.
Italy is seen lining up at the G7 with France but Britain has distanced itself and Germany's position has not been altogether clear.
Prodi said he shared a call by Eurogroup's chairman Jean-Claude Juncker for the US to take measures to strengthen the dollar.
"There is concern that the US policy is very attentive exclusively towards domestic interests," Prodi said.
Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders said the ECB should be ready to cut interest rates if the euro zone economy worsens.
"What often strikes me is hearing ECB officials explain how the situation has changed, how it's worrying and then doing nothing," he said.