President Barack Obama urged US banks Saturday to unfreeze credit for small businesses, calling them "the engine" of the country's economy.

"Small businesses have always been the engine of our economy - creating 65 percent of all new jobs over the past decade and a half - and they must be at the forefront of our recovery," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

He added that it was time for large American banks that received government assistance at the height of the current economic crisis "to stand by creditworthy small businesses, and make the loans they need to open their doors, grow their operations, and create new jobs."

The president recalled that his administration had already provided five billion dollars worth of tax relief to small businesses and guaranteed some of Small Business Administration loans up to 90 percent, which has supported nearly 13 billion dollars in new lending to more than 33,000 businesses.

But he argued that more needed to be done by private banks, particularly now that the situation in the financial sector has stabilized.

Obama said his administration would take "every appropriate step" to encourage the banking sector to resume lending to small businesses.

"Because if it's one thing we've learned, it's that here in America, we rise and fall together," the president said. "Our economy as a whole can't move ahead if small businesses and the middle class continue to fall behind."

This video was published to YouTube by the White House on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009.

With AFP.