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Clinton calls on Europe to stem debt crisis

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called on European governments to tackle reforms to stem the public debt crisis, citing no alternative to these “difficult decisions.”

“We encourage countries to continue reform measures that will bring about renewed growth and improved competitiveness for the future,” she said after meeting with her Portuguese counterpart, Paulo Portas.

Clinton, in rare public comments about economic matters, said at a joint news conference with Portas that they had discussed the economic challenges facing Portugal and Europe.

“The Portuguese people and the government of Portugal have demonstrated impressive resolve in putting aside political differences to implement difficult austerity measures that are helping to stabilize the Portuguese economy, but also to set it up for long-term economic success,” she said.

“Other countries and governments are still working to take such paths, and we expect European leaders to continue to ensure that the response to this crisis is strong, flexible, and most importantly, effective.”

Clinton also acknowledged that the United States faces “a lot of the same challenges.”

“We strongly support the common-sense effective efforts that we see being taken here under President (Barack) Obama and in Europe by various leaders,” she said.

“We just want to make clear that we have to continue down this path. There are no shortcuts. And it’s not going to be easy, but it will, in my view, result in a return to economic prosperity in the future if we’re willing to do now what is required of us.”

The Portuguese foreign minister vowed that his country would accomplish its commitments to the international community.

“We’ll win this battle against the debt,” Portas said.

Clinton’s comments came after a series of statements by Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urging leaders of the eurozone countries to take action to prevent a financial contagion from Greece’s debt crisis.

On Monday Obama said the crisis “is scaring the world,” while Geithner said the US would like to see Europe’s leaders take “those basic lessons” from Washington’s handling of the US financial crisis “and move more quickly now.”