Washington: US President Barack Obama on Saturday telephoned his French counterpart Francois Hollande to discuss with him the economic conditions in Europe, the White House said. "President Obama spoke today with French President Hollande to discuss economic conditions in Europe. This continues the President's close consultations with European colleagues following their Camp David discussions," it said.

Obama and Hollande agreed on the importance of steps to strengthen the resilience of Eurozone and growth in Europe and globally, and agreed to remain in contact as they prepare for the June 18-19 G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Obama welcomed France's decision to host the next meeting of the Friends of Syria on July 6, noting the need to quickly bring about a political transition in Syria, the White House said.

This is his second call to European leaders this week. Early this week, Obama had called the British Prime Minister. Earlier in the day, Obama told reporters at a White House news conference that he has been in constant touch with European leaders on the economic crisis there.

"We have been in constant contact with European leaders over the last two years, and we have consulted with them both at the head of government and head of state level. I frequently speak to the leaders not only at formal settings like the G8 but also on the telephone or via videoconference. And our economic teams have gone over there to consult," he said.

Obama said the challenges being faced by Europe is solvable.

"Right now, their focus has to be on strengthening their overall banking system -- much in the same way that we did back in 2009 and 2010 -- making a series of decisive actions that give people confidence that the banking system is solid, that capital requirements are being met, that various stresses that may be out there can be absorbed by the system. And I think that European leaders are in discussions about that and they’re moving in the right direction," he noted.

"In addition, they're going to have to look at how do they achieve growth at the same time as they’re carrying out structural reforms that may take two or three or five years to fully accomplish. So countries like Spain and Italy, for example, have embarked on some smart structural reforms that everybody thinks are everything from tax collection to labor markets to a whole host of different issues," he said.

"But they've got to have the time and the space for those steps to succeed. If they are just cutting and cutting and cutting, and their unemployment rate is going up and up and up, and people are pulling back further from spending money because they're feeling a lot of pressure that can actually make it harder for them to carry out some of these reforms over the long term," Obama said.

"So I think there's discussion now about, in addition to sensible ways to deal with debt and government finances, there's a parallel discussion that's taking place among European leaders to figure out how do we also encourage growth and show some flexibility to allow some of these reforms to really take root," he said.


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