Obama lauds ‘positive steps’ to tackle euro crisis

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 16:25 EDT
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Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and aides via AFP
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WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama called German counterpart Angela Merkel on Tuesday to welcome “positive steps” taken by the European Union to ease its smoldering debt crisis, the White House said.

Hours after the EU and the private sector inked a 237-billion-euro ($310 billion) bailout designed to keep Greece in the single currency, the White House lauded the deal as important, but stressed there was more work to do.

“The president thanked the chancellor for her leadership, and welcomed last night’s agreement in Europe on a new rescue program for Greece to help reduce its debt to sustainable levels,” said spokesman Jay Carney.

But he added: “Additional steps should be taken,” including strengthening a financial firewall that would prevent the debt crisis from spreading to larger economies such as Italy and Spain.

“Progress still needs to be made,” said Carney.

Under the terms of the Greek deal, banks will take a 53 percent loss on Greek bonds while Athens commits to a series of brutal cost-cutting measures and to change the constitution to debt repayments priority.

Even with the deal, the European Union and its members will have to run a steeple chase of obstacles to keep the eurozone together, as multiple members labor under a weighty mix of low growth, high unemployment and skyrocketing debt.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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