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Greek PM: Obama supports crackdown on euro speculation

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama reacted positively to European ideas about cracking down on currency speculation, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said following a White House meeting Tuesday.

Papandreou said he outlined European proposals in his White House meeting. He said the issue would be discussed at the next meeting of the Group of 20 summit of leading and emerging economies in June.

Earlier Tuesday, European officials urged the United States to curb certain financial instruments.

A market frenzy in recent weeks saw traders make bets worth billions of dollars against the euro and on the chances of Greece not repaying its massive debts. Those market worries have undermined the 16-country currency.

Papandreou said he also detailed steps that Greece has taken to reduce its deficit and reform its economy. He also met with U.S. lawmakers Tuesday, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The Greek people can be assured that the United States will stand with them at this critical time," she said in a brief joint appearance with the Greek prime minister.

In a boost for Papandreou, the Homeland Security Secretary announced Tuesday that Greece finally had been added to a list of countries whose citizens do not need visas for tourist visits to the United States. Most European countries already enjoy that privilege, so the issue has been sensitive for the Greek government, which has been pleading for years to join the visa waiver program.

Papandreou's visit along with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou comes as Greece tries to climb out of a steep economic hole that widened after Papandreou's Socialist party came to power in October and revealed that its budget deficit was far worse than the previous government had disclosed.

The trip is part of a four-nation tour aimed at boosting Greece's financial credibility and winning support for more favorable interest rates.

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