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International Finance Chiefs Urge US to Resolve Its Spending, Debt Issues

Finance chiefs of the world's leading economies are urging the United States to quickly resolve its political stalemate on spending priorities and increase its borrowing authority.

The G20 finance ministers, meeting in Washington, said Friday that the U.S., with the world's largest economy, "needs to take urgent action to address short-term fiscal uncertainties."

One of the finance ministers, Russia's Anton Siluanov, said the standoff between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican opponents in Congress impacts other countries. He said Russia hopes the crisis will be "resolved as soon as possible."

Mr. Obama met again with Republican congressional leaders at the White House, looking for a way to end the 11-day partial government shutdown that has furloughed several hundred thousand government workers and halted key programs, and at the same time increase the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. The U.S. says it will have only limited funds left to pay its bills when it reaches the borrowing cap next Thursday.

The president, a Democrat, and his Republican opponents have offered one another other various ideas to end the impasse, but have yet to resolve it.

One senator who met with Mr. Obama, Susan Collins of (the northeastern state of) Maine, called the meeting a "good exchange, but an inconclusive exchange."

Republicans in the House of Representatives have offered to increase the debt ceiling through November 22, while looking to negotiate more spending cuts with the White House over the next six weeks. House Republican leaders met Thursday with Mr. Obama, and later Congressman Eric Cantor described the discussions as constructive.

"We had a very useful meeting. It was clarifying I think for both sides as to where we are."

Meanwhile, the political impact of the shutdown on the U.S. political landscape was reflected in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 800 people. It showed that 53 percent of respondents blame the shutdown on Republicans, while 31 percent blame it on Mr. Obama and Democratic lawmakers.

News of a possible debt ceiling deal sent U.S. markets soaring Thursday and Asian stock indexes jumped Friday as well. U.S. and European stocks advanced modestly Friday.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told a Senate panel Thursday that it would be a "grave mistake" to fail to increase the debt ceiling by the October 17 deadline. He said the Treasury would then only have about $30 billion on hand and some incoming revenue, but not enough to pay all its bills.

Lew said the government should not have to choose between paying government bond holders or paying pensions and health benefits owed to older Americans.

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