British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
BRITAIN, hosting a summit of G20 finance ministers this weekend, on Friday (March 13) sought to play down a document which showed the government treating some countries as more important than others in the group.
The Financial Times said it had obtained a confidential tender issued in December by the government to supply public relations services for the London G20 leaders summit in April, which identified 11 countries as the top priority.
British officials did not deny the existence of the document but sought to play down its importance.
“This list in no way represents a hierarchy of our political relations with those states,” a foreign office spokeswoman said.
The tender focused on 11 high priority states - the US, Japan, Germany, France, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, Brazil, Italy and Saudi Arabia, the newspaper reported.
The European Commission, which represents the European Union, was also included, the FT said. Australia, Russia, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey were relegated to a G20 “B” list.
The report risked embarrassing Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is hosting the summit of G20 leaders on April 2, seen as vital in efforts to pull the world out of a downturn caused by the credit crisis and in boosting Brown’s poor domestic poll ratings.
When asked if Brown had an “A” and “B” list for the G20, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “No, he doesn’t.”
A foreign office spokesman added:
“This was a very indicative list and based on the prevalence and scale of well-developed non-governmental organisations, media, civil society, academia, trade unions and non-traditional actors like sovereign wealth funds, not on how objectively important or not each country and its government were, either to the UK more widely or in a G20 context.”
The report came ahead of the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in southern England, which is expected to do the groundwork for the leaders’ meeting.
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