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The Associated Press June 17, 2010, 6:27PM ET

G-20 nears agreement on deficit reduction targets

Canada's finance minister said Thursday the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations hope to announce an agreement on deficit reduction targets at next week's economic summit in Toronto.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told The Associated Press in an interview that the G-20 is making progress on hard targets on deficit and debt reduction.

Flaherty said there hasn't been an agreement on numbers yet. He said leaders are aiming to reach a deal at the June 26-27 summit

"There is reasonable progress being made on the fiscal consolidation issue including talking about trying to have some concrete targets that we would agree on," Flaherty said.

"We're aiming at arriving at that kind of agreement."

Flaherty did not indicate any targets for debt reduction or deadlines.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has urged countries not to reduce stimulus spending too quickly. Flaherty called it a delicate balance and said the European sovereign debt crisis has driven home the need to restore fiscal sustainability.

"We're all agreed that the No. 1 priority is fiscal consolidation so that we can have resilient economic growth," Flaherty said. "The balance that we need to strike, and we've been having lots of discussion about this, is how do you balance the restraint that fiscal consolidation brings and the need to have some continuing stimulus in the economy, particularly the western economies so that economic growth is not curtailed."

Flaherty said agreements on financial reform are more likely to be completed at the G-20 meeting in Seoul in November.

"For the most part we will be working toward Korea because that's what the leaders directed us to do at the Pittsburgh summit last autumn," Flaherty said.

In the wake of the global recession, the G-20, which includes both advanced and emerging economies, has taken over from the Group of Seven industrialized nations as a key priorities-setting group for the global economy.

The G-20 is working on reforms of financial regulations to help prevent the kinds of financial meltdowns that contributed to the recession, the worst global slump since World War II.

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