Leaders from France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany are planning to meet on Saturday in preparation for a European finance summit to be held in Washington next week. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who shot down reports on Thursday that France was proposing a hefty European bailout package, invited the other three heads of state — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — to the pre-summit huddle in Paris.


Sarkozy himself insisted to reporters that France had not suggested creating a 300-billion-euro (417-billion-dollar) fund,and the finance ministry insisted that both the figure and the idea had come from the Netherlands.

“There was an exchange of ideas but no French proposals. There was no French plan. There is no French fund,” said an official in Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s office, denying these “groundless accusations”.

On a visit to Paris, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denied that his government was proposing a single Europe-wide bail-out fund, saying that there had been a “misunderstanding” on the issue.

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