Obama, Merkel call for 'resolute action' on Greece

29th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

US President Barack Obama called German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, with both leaders stressing the need for "resolute action" to tackle Greece's spiraling debt crisis, the White House said.

Obama broke away from events in Ohio, where he has been addressing economic hardships facing Americans, to call Merkel about a crisis that threatens to spread across the eurozone.

"President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke today by telephone, one in an ongoing series of consultations between close allies on global issues," the White House said in a statement.

"They discussed the importance of resolute action by Greece and timely support from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and Europe to address Greece's economic difficulties."

Merkel's government has for weeks shown reluctance to give Greece a bailout because of fierce domestic opposition.

But as the euro was pummeled in recent days and Greek debt was downgraded to junk status, fears that the crisis was spreading appeared to have forced Merkel to act.

On the margins of crisis meetings with the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, Merkel on Wednesday said that Greek rescue talks must be "accelerated."

Her comments came as the euro hit fresh one-year lows and Spain became the latest eurozone member to suffer a downgrade of its credit rating .

Greece meanwhile acted to stop speculators operating on the Athens stock exchange as the interest rate it has to pay to borrow money hit 11.1 percent, trailing only Pakistan and Venezuela as the world's highest interest payers.

US firms are not seen as hugely exposed to Greece's debt woes, but instability in the eurozone has rocked US markets, causing the blue-chip Dow to lose over 200 points on Tuesday.

The European Union is also the biggest trading partner for the United States.

According to the White House, "the president and the chancellor also discussed ongoing efforts to support peace in the Middle East."

© 2010 AFP

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