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Sarkozy tries to ignore debt rating

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has shrugged off his country's loss of its prized triple A rating for its debt in his first public comments on last week's downgrade.

Standard & Poor's lowered its rating of the country's debt on Friday on concerns over its economy and Europe's ability to deal with its debt problems. Since then Mr Sarkozy has avoided directly commenting on the downgrade, relying instead on his finance minister and prime minister to downplay the loss.

The lower rating appeared to have little effect on France's financial standing, as the country easily sold 8.6 billion euros in short-term debt. However, it could seriously impair Mr Sarkozy's bid for re-election this spring.

The president won a further small reprieve, when the Moody's agency confirmed that France would keep its top rating.

At a press conference with the new Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Mr Sarkozy said the rating agencies would not define his policies and called for "calm" in the face of the downgrade.

But he did note that Moody's and Fitch, two of the three major agencies, still give France their highest rating.


From Belfast Telegraph