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EU bailout fund chief visits China

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(BEIJING) - The head of the eurozone bailout fund visits Beijing on Friday as debt-laden Europe tries to persuade China and other top emerging economies to come to its rescue.

Klaus Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), will be in the Chinese capital before travelling to Japan at the weekend, European Union delegations in Beijing and Tokyo have said.

Regling's visit comes a day after European nations reached a last-ditch deal to tackle their festering debt crisis, which they hope will boost market confidence in struggling eurozone economies.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced at a summit in Brussels that eurozone leaders had agreed to leverage the 440-billion-euro EFSF, the continent's bailout fund, to one trillion euros ($1.4 trillion).

The EU has not said who Regling would meet in Beijing or Tokyo, nor given reasons for his visit, but Europe has been toying with the idea of asking China and other emerging economies to help, possibly by investing in the rescue fund.

Sarkozy said Thursday that there was no reason to turn down Chinese assistance.

"If the Chinese, who have 60 percent of global reserves, decide to invest in the euro instead of the dollar, why refuse?" he said in a television interview, adding: "Our independence will in no way be put into question by this."

China, the world's second-largest economy, has invested significant sums in European debt and has repeatedly called on Europe to address its sovereign debt crisis, saying a failure to act risks dragging the world back into recession.

While Beijing cautiously welcomed the deal on Thursday, it has not announced plans to participate in the fund.

"We believe it is conducive to lifting market confidence, promoting the sustainable economic development of the EU and the eurozone and injecting new vitality into European integration," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said about the deal.

"As an important strategic partner of the EU, China has faith in the EU and the eurozone economy."

The state-owned China Daily newspaper, citing a source close to EU decision makers, said Wednesday that China and other top emerging economies had agreed to help eurozone countries by contributing to the bailout fund.

But on Thursday China's state Xinhua news agency said Europe needed to take responsibility for the crisis, and not rely on "good samaritans" to rescue the continent.

Regling is scheduled to hold a media briefing in the Chinese capital on Friday afternoon.

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