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Obama: Debt crisis priority of G20 summit

  |   Nov. 3, 2011 at 6:50 PM
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CANNES, France, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Resolving Europe's debt crisis is the top priority for Group of 20 leaders meeting in France to discuss the global economy, President Obama said Thursday.

"I think it's no surprise that we spent most of our conversation focused on strengthening the global economic recovery so that we are creating jobs for our people and stabilizing the financial markets around the world," Obama said in a media appearance with French President Nicolas Sarkozy after the two leaders met in Cannes. "The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe."

Obama said the European Union has taken steps toward a comprehensive solution with Sarkozy's leadership.

"But here at the G20 we're going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented," Obama said.

He said the two leaders also discussed the situation in Greece and how to resolve it as well.

"And the United States will continue to be a partner with the Europeans to resolve these challenges," Obama said.

Also discussed was the "continuing threat posed by Iran's nuclear program," Obama said, noting the International Atomic Energy Agency is to release its report on Iran's nuclear program next week.

"President Sarkozy and I agreed on the need to maintain the unprecedented international pressure on Iran to meet its obligations," he said.

Sarkozy, through an interpreter, said Europe needs the "solidarity and the support" of the United States.

"Together, President Obama and [I] are trying to build the unity of the G20," Sarkozy said. "And I wish to pay tribute to the United States for understanding about all the issues we'll be discussing over the next 48 hours, and in particular, the issue of the Greek crisis -- the difficulty that the euro is facing, the need to be hand-in-glove with the United States on the language of the final communique."

Obama also recognized the efforts by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in discussions about the European debt crisis after he met with her.

"Central to our discussions at the G20 is how do we achieve greater global growth and put people back to work. That means we're going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe," Obama said. "And without Angela's leadership we would not have already made the progress that we've seen at the EU meeting on Oct. 27."

Merkel, through an interpreter, said the G20 summit would provide the chance "not only to talk about European matters but also about global matters that matter to both of us and that are of common interest."

At a news conference in Cannes, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, told reporters in Cannes world leaders are "very committed to dealing with this challenge with a sense of urgency."

Undersecretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard said the "best insurance policy" for the United States would be for Congress to enact Obama's jobs act proposals.

"Our recovery is still fragile and vulnerable to events beyond our shores. And that's why it's so important for us to make sure that we have in place the payroll tax cut, the infrastructure financing, the mechanisms that he's proposed to get people back on the job," Brainard said.

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