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Obama insists Europe find economic rescue

CANNES, France -- With his political fortunes and his nation's economy at risk, President Barack Obama implored European leaders Thursday to swiftly work out a eurozone rescue plan, aware of the potential fallout at home if they fail.

Obama, at the French Riviera for a summit of the Group of 20 leading industrialized and developing economies, pledged to be a partner in helping the Europeans cope with the economic emergency. But his aides insisted that Europe's problem, brought on by the threat of a Greek default, was one it had to fix.

Taking his jobs-first message abroad, Obama said the goal was getting people back to work. "That means," he said, "we're going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe."

For Obama, heading into election year in a time of economic peril, the stakes in Europe are immense. Europe is the largest U.S. trading partner, and its intertwined financial institutions mean that a worsening crisis there inevitably would spread across the Atlantic. The timing could not be worse, as the weak U.S. economy is beginning to show some signs of life even with the unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent.

Obama's economic options and his leverage are limited, and the European debt crisis consumed all attention at the summit meeting.

The Greek government was in danger of collapsing over Prime Minister George Papandreou's call for a public vote on the rescue deal. Later, he scrapped the referendum but ignored repeated calls to resign, while the eurozone remained in turmoil.

Obama declared his solidarity with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, two architects of the debt bailout plan. Obama said resolving the financial crisis is "the most important aspect of our task over the next two days."

But with aspects of the rescue undefined, he added: "We're going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented." The plan would cut Greece's debt by half and create a $1.4 trillion firewall to protect other vulnerable European economies. It also would impose strict and unpopular austerity measures on Greece.

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