UPDATE 2-Obama makes rare comment about dollar – on Russian TV

* Obama says focusing on fundamentals of U.S. economy

* Says very concerned about Greek debt crisis
(Updates with background on Russian position on dollar)

By Ross Colvin and David Lawder

WASHINGTON, May 8 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama said
if the United States has a strong economy it will have a strong
dollar, in rare comments about the U.S. currency in an
interview with Russian television broadcast on Saturday.

Obama also expressed fresh American concern over the debt
turmoil roiling Greece, which has affected world markets.

The interviewer from Russian television’s state-run Channel
Rossiya asked Obama whether he would like to see a weaker or a
stronger dollar.

“My basic principle is to focus on the fundamentals of the
economy. I think that if we have a strong U.S. economy we’re
going to have a strong dollar,” Obama said, according to an
English-language transcript of the May 6 interview provided by
the White House.

Obama’s remarks were unusual as he normally leaves it to
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to take the lead role in
commenting on the U.S. currency.

Geithner has typically repeated his long-standing mantra
that a strong dollar is in the U.S. interest and its value
would reflect the strength of the U.S. economy.

Some foreign investors, including China, expressed concern
about dollar weakness late last year. Russia joined China in
calling for discussion of the possibility of creating a new
international reserve currency.


Obama’s comments about the dollar would have been of keen
interest to his Russian audience given that many Russians,
including the government, have their savings in dollars.

In the midst of the global economic crisis last year,
Russian leaders called for less global dependence on the dollar
and took steps to reduce the dollar’s share of Russia’s foreign
exchange reserve holdings, the world’s third largest.

But the dollar has grown stronger as worries about the
Greek debt crisis have driven investors out of the euro.

The dollar strengthened to around $1.27 per euro last week
from over $1.50 last December, when evidence of a U.S. recovery
was less clear and there were growing concerns the U.S. budget
deficit would continue to rise.

Obama, who receives regular briefings from top economic
advisers about Greece’s debt turmoil, said he was “very
concerned” about the crisis.

“But I think it is an issue that the Europeans recognize is
very serious,” he added.

“Greece is taking some very difficult measures — at least
they’ve put forward a plan that calls for difficult measures.
And if we can stabilize Europe that will be good for the United
States and that will be good for Russia as well.”

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has agreed to
implement austerity measures in exchange for billions of euros
in EU/IMF aid, but many Greeks have reacted angrily, with tens
of thousands taking to the streets to protest against the
planned cuts in wages and pensions.

Investment Analysis
(Reporting by Ross Colvin and David Lawder in Washington,
additional reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Editing by
Will Dunham and Todd Eastham)

UPDATE 2-Obama makes rare comment about dollar – on Russian TV