Geithner to make fast China trip next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will make a one-day trip to China next week to attend a Group of 20 seminar on reform of the international monetary system, the Treasury announced on Friday.

During the March 31 trip, Geithner will also hold talks with Chinese officials ahead of this year’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which is to be held in Washington later this year at an unspecified date.

The seminar in Nanjing, China, was organized at the behest of this year’s G20 host, France. It was initially talked about as a forum for discussing foreign exchange policy, but G20 sources said China was reluctant to have that as the key topic because it might focus excessive attention on China’s policy of controlling the yuan’s value

The U.S. Treasury now describes the seminar in generic terms as one “to discuss reforms to the international monetary system and the importance of the G20 maintaining its focus on supporting a sustainable global recovery.”

It said Geithner would meet his Chinese counterparts and other senior Chinese officials to discuss the global economic outlook and the economic relationship between the United States and China.

The Strategic and Economic Dialogue is a variation of an initiative set up under the Bush administration that brings together U.S. Treasury and State Department officials for talks with Chinese counterparts on issues of interest to each. It rotates between Washington and Beijing and has not resulted in specific agreements of note.

The original version, called simply the Strategic Economic Dialogue, was set up by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to concentrate on specific economic issues. It did produce a number of agreements on issues ranging from civil aviation to trade.

(Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Geithner to make fast China trip next week