Paulson, Trichet Talk Quickly Turns to Oil, Food

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Tuesday that discussions with European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet about inflation led quickly to food and oil prices, and he reiterated his respect for central bank monetary policy decisions.

Henry Paulson
Henry Paulson

Paulson, speaking to reporters here following a meeting with Trichet, said the two discussed the dollar and euro and other world currencies, including those in Asia, but he declined to provide details.

"I would just simply say that you can't talk about economic issues without talking about inflation, and when you talk about inflation, you're very quickly talking about food and you're talking about oil. It's just that simple," he said of the meeting.

Paulson, in Europe on a five-day trip to discuss economic issues with government and finance leaders, declined to comment directly on prospects for an ECB rate hike two days ahead of the central bank's next interest-rate decision on Thursday. He said he respects the bank's independence.

"I've got no comment on monetary policy and let me just be clear on that. Whether it's Ben Bernanke, or whether it's Jean-Claude Trichet, if there's one thing I respect, it is an independent central bank setting monetary policy," Paulson said. "And I understand that independence, and I respect that independence."