US & Canada

Obama: Eurozone 'must focus on jobs and growth'

US President Barack Obama has said there is an "emerging consensus" that European countries must now focus on jobs and growth.

Speaking after the G8 summit of some of the world's leading economies, he said the US was confident that Europe can meet its challenges.

President Obama said leaders had made good progress on a range of issues.

In addition the eurozone crisis, they discussed Iran, Afghanistan and global energy supply.

The leaders of France, Germany, the US, the UK, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia met at Camp David in the US state of Maryland.

G8 leaders at Camp David (19 May)
Obama said the meeting had been a success

In an earlier communique, G8 leaders committed themselves to promoting growth alongside fiscal responsibility and affirmed that they wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone.

The BBC's Paul Adams at Camp David says both that communique and Mr Obama's speech showed the US and French position had won out over Germany and Britain's pro-austerity stance.

Energy worries

Leaders attending the summit addressed a number of issues, including energy security, climate change and the situation in Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

There was discussion of a broad release of national oil reserves to steady shaky energy markets when tough new sanctions on Iran's oil exports kick in.

President Obama also announced that they had formed a new alliance to focus on food security with African leaders and the private sector.

The focus, however, remained on the crisis in the eurozone.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the summit, President Obama said: "As all of the leaders here today agree, growth and jobs must be our top priority."

Emphasising that the United States had taken this approach to its own financial crisis, he said he was "confident" that European countries were moving in the right direction.

But he acknowledged that the European situation was "more complicated" than America's. Earlier, the G8 leaders said "the right measures are not the same for each of us".

In a statement, the group said it agreed "on the importance of a strong and cohesive eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the eurozone while respecting its commitments".

The global economic recovery was showing signs of progress, they said, but "significant headwinds persist".

For its part, the EU welcomed the G8 communique with its dual emphasis on boosting growth and jobs.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said both growth-boosting measures and efforts to restore public finance were needed.

"Opposing the two is a false debate," said they said in a joint statement.

Leaders will now turn their thoughts to Afghanistan, as President Obama and other heads of government travel to Chicago for a Nato summit on Sunday.