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Obama Talks With Sarkozy, Merkel Amid Europe Debt Crisis Concern

Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama spoke today with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as European leaders struggle to calm concerns that the region’s debt crisis and global economy will worsen.

Obama “welcomed the continued leadership” of Sarkozy and Merkel in addressing the challenges facing Europe’s economy and they talked about the “significant steps” taken at a July 21 summit, according to a White House statement.

The discussions, in separate telephone calls, came on the same day that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations to meet in the coming days. G-7 finance ministers are now scheduled to meet Sept. 9-10 in Marseille, France.

European officials are renewing efforts to stamp out the region’s debt crisis against the backdrop of a slumping global stock market. While the rout slowed today on optimism that faster Italian austerity measures will prompt the European Central Bank to prop up the country’s debt, Berlusconi said at a news conference in Rome that leaders are still facing a “very difficult situation.”

Sarkozy and Merkel also conducted calls with Berlusconi and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Obama also spoke with Sarkozy and Merkel about the violence against Syrians by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The White House statement said Obama, Merkel and Sarkozy “agreed to consider additional steps to pressure the Assad regime and support the Syrian people” beyond the Aug. 3 statement of condemnation by the United Nations Security Council.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at mtalev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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