U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together on efforts to create jobs. The president hosted a meeting with top lawmakers from both parties at the White House Tuesday.
President Obama says Republicans and Democrats can cooperate to strengthen the economy, even though they disagree on many issues.
"I think it's fair to say that the American people are frustrated with the lack of progress on some key issues," he said. "And although the parties are not going to agree on every single item, there should be some areas where we can agree."
Minority Republicans have blocked Democratic initiatives on health care and other domestic issues.
With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, the president said he hopes Congress will soon approve incentives for small businesses to add workers.
"A good place to start, and what I hope to spend a lot of time on in these discussions today, is how we can move forward on a jobs package," President Obama said.
Mr. Obama also said he hoped for an agreement on ways to reduce the U.S. debt and budget deficit, which are at record highs.
He met with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the top House Republican, Minority Leader John Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers.
The president said he looks forward to having more bipartisan meetings in the future.
"My hope is this is not going to be a rare situation; we're going to be doing these on a regular basis," he said. "And I'm very thankful that everybody here has taken the time to come. I'm confident that if we move forward in a spirit of keeping in mind what's best for the American people that we should be able to accomplish a lot."
Mr. Obama's approval ratings average just below 50 percent in recent polls, down sharply from this time last year. Approval ratings for Congress are significantly lower, averaging just over 22 percent.