White House wants 'unanimity' on euro at G20
The White House said on Wednesday it wanted "unanimity" of purpose to emerge from the G20 summit in France on the eurozone crisis, after Greece sparked chaos by calling a referendum on its debt deal.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the situation would be a key subject of discussion at the talks in Cannes beginning Thursday.
"Our goal is for there to be unanimity of purpose coming out of the G20," he said.
"The events in Greece... underscore the need for Europe to come together and to unite behind conclusive action that resolves this crisis," Carney said hours before President Barack Obama leaves for France.
"Clearly Europe is a high priority right now."
Meanwhile, European leaders were to meet Wednesday in the French riviera city to try to restore calm on the eve of the summit, following the Greek prime minister's announcement that he would hold a debt rescue referendum -- raising the spectre of Greece leaving the eurozone.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, top EU leaders and the head of the International Monetary Fund were set to meet with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to discuss the implications of his referendum plan.
"France and Germany decided to convoke George Papandreou to explain the situation before the G20" meeting of advanced economies on Thursday and Friday in Cannes, a French government official told AFP. "We have to act quickly."
Europe has come under intense pressure from its G20 partners to contain its debt crisis, and after hard-fought negotiations last week came up with a deal that would wipe 100 billion euros off Greece's debt, strengthen banks to weather those losses and more than double the firepower of its bailout fund.
But Papandreou shocked Europe and the financial markets late Monday with his announcement that he would put the deal to voters in a referendum.
© 2011 AFP