By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Finance ministers and central bank presidents of the world's seven wealthiest countries held an emergency conference call Tuesday to review the policy options European leaders are considering to forge a stronger financial and fiscal union in Europe.
After the call, the White House said it believed European leaders had a "heightened sense of urgency" about confronting a crisis that threatens the U.S. economy.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama welcomed what Carney called "accelerated European action" to avoid a euro zone meltdown that could have global consequences.
"European leaders seem to be moving with a heightened sense of urgency and we welcome that and we are hoping to see accelerated European action over the next several weeks," Carney said. "A movement to strengthen the European banking system would be of particular importance during this time period."
In a statement, Treasury said that the G-7 finance officials agreed to keep monitoring developments closely in the run-up to a leaders' summit of the Group of 20 major economies on June 18-19 in Los Cabos, Mexico. The European debt crisis is expected to be the major agenda item at that meeting.
The G-7 countries are the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy. The G-20 includes the G-7 nations plus emerging economic powers such as China, India and Brazil.
The United States was represented at G-7 finance discussions by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke is scheduled to testify on economic developments on Thursday before the congressional Joint Economic Committee. He is expected to face extensive questions about how Europe is impacting U.S. growth and what the Federal Reserve might do to offset the economic drag being created from Europe's problems.
The Labor Department reported last week that the nation created just 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and just half what economists had been expecting.
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