U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says the United States is committed to helping Argentina stabilize its economy. But he has stopped short of promising an emergency loan or bailout.

Secretary Paul O'Neill says the United States wants to see Argentina recover. But Wednesday, he only offered moral support, and not a bailout like the $1.5 billion loan he delivered to Uruguay one day earlier. "We have been always, and continue to be, dedicated to the proposition of helping Argentina regain its feet," he said.

Mr. O'Neill pointed out that Argentina has taken what he called positive steps, but now he wants the country's leaders to draft a concrete plan for pulling Argentina out of the worst economic crisis in its history.

He said the United States would act as an intermediary between Argentina and the International Monetary Fund, and if the Fund does not agree with Argentina's plan of action, Washington would offer "technical assistance" so the two sides could agree on the terms of an emergency loan.

Argentina is the third and final stop on Mr. O'Neill's tour of South American countries with struggling economies. Thousands of protesters have greeted him here. On Tuesday, the demonstrations forced him to curtail any public appearances.

Many people in Argentina blame the Bush administration for blocking aid country's leaders say they badly need.