US President Barack Obama hosted John Boehner, speaker of the opposition-led House of Representatives, for a meeting at the White House over the so-called fiscal cliff, the severe austerity measures that are to take effect in January.
Sunday's meeting was the first one between the two leaders without other congressional leaders since July 2011, The Washington Post reported.
The combined federal budget cuts and tax increases are projected to take a bite of more than 600 billion dollars out of the economy in 2013 alone and could throw the United States back into recession.
Across-the-board income tax increases account for most of the economic hit.
Spokesmen for Obama and Boehner offered no details of the talks except to issue mutual statements that "the lines of communication remain open," the Post said.
Obama has urged Congress, where his left-leaning Democrats control the Senate but the conservative Republican Party holds the House majority, to pass legislation freezing income tax rates for the bottom 98 per cent of earners. He has vowed to block any measure that prevents higher rates for households earning more than 250,000 a year.
Republicans have argued that higher rates in any income bracket would be damaging in a still-weak economy and have countered with offers to reduce tax deductions, which disproportionately benefit the wealthy, to raise similar revenues.
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