New Danish prime minister warns of lengthy financial crisis

New Danish prime minister warns of lengthy financial crisisCopenhagen - Denmark's new prime minister used his debut speech to parliament on Tuesday to warn that the global economic crisis "overshadows everything.""One task overshadows everything: the crisis," Lokke Rasmussen, 44, said in his speech, adding he "did not know how deep or long" the downturn would last.

Rasmussen, who took over from his namesake (but no relation) Anders Forgh Rasumussen after the latter left to become NATO secretary-general, insisted that Denmark could use its fiscal surplus to cope with the crisis.

But he warned that unemployment was due to rise.

Denmark is in December to host an international climate conference aimed at securing a new treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The current crisis should not block efforts to secure a deal though this would be "extremely difficult," the premier said.

He added that US President Barack Obama had invited him to attend a summit in June with 16 major economies as part of efforts to secure a successful outcome of the Copenhagen parley.

On foreign affairs, Lokke Rasmussen said his government would continue to work to remove the opt-outs that Denmark has from the European Union, saying they harmed Denmark's interests.

However, he gave no date for a possible referendum on adopting the joint European currency, the euro, saying it would be held "when the time is ripe."

The remarks were welcomed by Kristian Thulesen Dahl of the Danish People's Party that provides backing for the minority government that since 2001 comprises the premier's centre-right Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said she was "disappointed" over the speech adding it contained "nothing new" and lacked measures to counter the crisis. (dpa)