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Obama calls Merkel on debt crisis

May 09, 2010

US President Barack Obama spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the second time in three days Sunday and pressed for "resolute" EU steps to build market confidence, the White House said.

"President Barack Obama spoke with Chancellor Merkel this morning as part of his ongoing engagement with regard to the economic situation there," White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton told reporters here.

"They discussed the importance of the members of the European Union taking resolute steps to build confidence in the market."

Obama placed the call, returning an earlier call from Merkel which he was not able to take, after arriving at Hampton University, Virginia where he was delivering a graduation address.

The conversation between Obama and Merkel came as the EU's 27 finance ministers opened talks in Brussels, hours from a deadline set by eurozone leaders to create a firewall for the euro before markets reopen in Asia.

Prior to Sunday, Obama and Merkel last spoke on Friday, amid fears in the United States that the debt crisis that erupted in Greece could cripple Europe and unleash fresh turmoil on Wall Street and in the US economy.

After Friday's call, Obama said he and Merkel had agreed that he and Merkel had agreed on the need for a strong response from the international community to the European debt crisis.

"We agreed on the importance of a strong policy response by the affected countries and a strong financial response from the international community," Obama said.

"I made clear the United States supports these efforts and we'll continue to cooperate with European authorities and the IMF during this critical period," he said.

Sources said that EU ministers were examining a series of elements as part of plans to establish common bailout funds for troubled members hit by a debt crisis triggered in Greece, but which has since spread to other countries.

According to European and British sources, the first involves a new base fighting fund of 60 billion euros (more than 75 billion dollars), which the bloc ideally wants all 27 member states to buy into.

That would extend an existing 50-billion-euro facility available to non-euro members, and which has been used in the past to help Romania, Hungary, Latvia, and make it available to euro countries.

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