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Automatic US Budget Cuts to Begin Friday


U.S. lawmakers are at a standstill on avoiding $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that are to hit the federal government on Friday.

President Barack Obama plans to meet with congressional leaders Friday in their first face-to-face talks since his inauguration in January.

The White House says the talks are meant to be a "constructive discussion" on doing something about the automatic cuts.

The sequester cuts are the result of a failure among lawmakers and the White House to arrive at a compromise U.S. government budget.

Observers say the meeting will look past the cuts to the next looming fiscal crisis, a possible government shutdown at the end of March. The annual congressional process of passing agency spending bills collapsed entirely last year, and lawmakers must act by March 27 to prevent a partial government shutdown.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gestures waiting for the opening of a plenary session with P5+1 ministers, European Union and Iranian minister on Iran nuclear talks at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 31, 2015.

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