US ready to help, Obama tells EU

US ready to help, Obama tells EU

President Barack Obama told European Union leaders Monday that the United States stands ready to help its European allies, even as the White House called for the EU to take decisive action to deal with its debt crisis, DPA reported.

"The United States stands ready to do our part to help them resolve this issue," Obama said after a meeting with European leaders that was dominated by the eurozone debt crisis. "This is of huge importance to our own economy."

Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met for about two hours over lunch at the White House with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Barroso said he told the US leaders he was confident Europe would work through its issues and urged Washington to be patient.

"I want to reassure President Obama, and also I want to reassure the Americans, Europe is going through tough times, yes, but we are determined to overcome the current difficulties," he told reporters.

Eurozone reform and treaty change options are set to be examined in Brussels by eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday, ahead of EU summit-level discussions on December 8-9, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to present a package of proposals to battle the debt crisis.

The US and EU leaders said in a joint statement that the global economy "has entered a new and difficult phase" since the last US-EU summit a year ago in Lisbon.

"The United States welcomes the EU's actions and determination to take all necessary steps to ensure the euro area's financial stability and resolve the crisis," the joint statement said. "The EU looks forward to US action on medium-term fiscal consolidation."

There has been tension recently between the two sides over the handling of the crisis. The Obama administration has criticized the slow political decision process at the EU, while Europe has balked at Washington's criticism of eurozone financial management at a time when the US is in the midst of its own debt crisis.

"The United States believes that Europe needs to take decisive action, conclusive action, to handle this problem and that it has the capacity to do so," spokesman Jay Carney said as President Barack Obama met with EU leaders at the White House.

Carney said the US stood ready to offer advice, but not financial assistance to the Europeans.

"We do not in any way believe that additional resources are required from the United States or from American taxpayers," he said.

Both sides stressed the importance of the US-EU trade relationship and said they would establish a high-level working group on jobs and growth in which trade representatives would look for ways to strengthen economic ties.

Along with the economy, the leaders also discussed developments in the Middle East and North Africa, the Iranian nuclear programme and counterterrorism efforts.

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