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White House: No Agreement in Talks on Government Shutdown

The White House says there is still no agreement with Republicans in Congress to end a political stalemate on government funding and borrowing; however, both sides have agreed to keep talking.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, called Republican House Speaker John Boehner Friday after holding a meeting with Senate Republicans earlier in the day.

The White House and Mr. Boehner's office said the two men agreed only that "all sides need to keep talking."

All sides are refusing to divulge specific details of what is being discussed as they look for a way to end the partial government shutdown that began October 1 and increase the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. The United States says it will have only limited funds left to pay its bills when it reaches the borrowing cap next Thursday.

Also Friday, finance chiefs of the world's leading economies urged the United States to quickly resolve the stalemate. The G20 finance ministers, meeting in Washington, said 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."

Some Republican lawmakers sounded a positive note after Friday's meeting with the president.

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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