President Obama voiced confidence Tuesday in Europe's ability to tackle its crippling debt crisis as he sought to calm global financial markets and the election-year worries of voters at home.
Obama, speaking at the close of the Group of 20 economic summit, said Europe's leaders showed a "heightened sense of urgency" during two days of talks, and he maintained that Europe has the capacity to solve the crisis on its own, indicating the U.S. would not be offering any financial pledges to help its international partners.
Still, he recognized the challenge European nations face; each country has to approve any action to stabilize the fiscal union.
Mindful of his audience in the U.S., Obama said, "The best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term."
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking Tuesday at the close of the summit, said Europe is nearing key decisions aimed at stabilizing the eurozone. Those steps, he said, include a framework to strengthen the continent's financial system and helping countries such as Spain and Italy borrow at sustainable interest rates. "We're encouraged by what we heard from the European leaders today," he said.
Geithner spoke after Obama's private meeting with the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the European Union. The continent's leaders are to outline the specifics of their plans during a summit in Brussels next week.
While Obama, as leader of the giant but struggling U.S. economy, is central to the Europe talks, it is the continent's leaders, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who carry both the power and responsibility to stabilize the eurozone.
Obama was immersed in a second day of talks before meeting separately with Chinese President Hu Jintao and holding a news conference.
The leaders gathered on the Mexican coast seemed intent on sending the right signals to jittery markets and unhappy electorates. Merkel told reporters that the leaders made a unified statement that they were willing to tackle their problems. "From the side of the European Union we argued unanimously and collectively that we are determined to solve the crisis, and to do it in a mix of fiscal consolidation, growth initiatives, and deepening of European cooperation," she said.
Obama sent some upbeat signals amid a sense of global relief that Greece, based on new elections, would not renege on its bailout terms. In Athens, Greece's socialist party said a coalition government may be formed by today. It is expected to be generally pro-bailout, but leaders are looking to renegotiate some terms of the loans Greece has received.
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